Former APD detectives claim they were pushed out after raising concerns with sex crimes unit
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Former Albuquerque police detectives claim inaction by APD leadership is allowing serial rapists to get away with their crime.
They say when they voiced their concerns and tried to improve the sex crimes unit, they were pushed out.
Teresa Romero and Sally Dyer and Mandi Abernathy are now suing the city, claiming many of the problems in the sex crimes unit began when a new sergeant was placed in charge.
According to the detectives, one of Sgt. Amanda Wild’s first mandates was to stop communicating with the district attorney’s office and other law enforcement partners.
"We’re a team, right? We both have the same goal, which is to put the bad guy away and for some reason, the relationship with the district attorney’s office and the sex crimes deteriorated," Dyer said.
"Sgt. Wild wouldn’t share information with them, so that they could work what they needed to do on their end," she added.
Romero said cases are built by cross-sharing information.
"She (Sgt. Wild) would give orders or directives, you know, not to talk to the district attorneys or we would have disciplinary team meetings where DAs would be present, sexual assault examiners would be present, victim advocates would be present, and she would order us not to talk during those meetings," Romero said. "She was hindering our jobs."
District Attorney Raul Torrez also had concerns in September 2019. He sent a letter to Mike Geier, who was chief at the time, stating, "APD Sex Crimes Sergeant Amanda Wild….will not release case file materials to the district attorney’s office. When APD does not share information, my office is not able to do its part to address the serious public safety issue that this backlog has created."
Romero and Dyer also said Wild didn’t allow them to enter information from rape kits into databases. Dyer said, when she created her own spreadsheet to track serial rapists in Albuquerque, Wild made her get rid of it.
"When I was doing the backlog, I started to keep track of serial offenders just based on what I would get from the case and I would have to enter everything into this database," Dyer said. "I was connecting the dots. I started documenting names that came up on more than one report– serial offenders. When Sgt. Wild came in, she asked me about the list and I believe there were over 20 names on it, and we hadn’t even gone through the whole backlog yet, but she told me that I needed to discontinue any record keeping of serial offenders."
Solid record keeping and using databases to match DNA or look for patterns in crimes is how cases are solved, the detectives explained.
"Had we utilized a database, I think we would have been able to track a lot more serial rapists, serial offenders which could have prevented other rapes from happening, but it wasn’t utilized," Romero said.
When detectives Dyer and Romero raised concerns, their lawsuit claims they were pushed out. For Dyer, the suit claims she learned funding for her position was cut one hour after she met with APD’s brass.
Romero was placed on administrative leave.
"The biggest losers are the citizens of Albuquerque and the biggest winners are the serial rapists because this is a place where they can come and do it again and again and again," said attorney Shannon Kennedy, who is representing Dyer and Romero.
KOB 4 requested to speak with Sgt. Wild, but APD denied that request. In an interview she did with KOB 4 in 2019, she said, "It’s my passion– I want to be there to help that one victim."
A spokesman for APD couldn’t comment on specific claims in the lawsuit because it is still being litigated, however, he did send an email stating, "Sgt. Amanda Wild was assigned to the sex crimes unit to fix problems that previously existed. The sex crimes unit has addressed past concerns, which helped the unit to successfully clear the rape kit backlog, generate DNA matches and conduct further investigation into cases that would not have otherwise been solved."