Albuquerque Police Department highlights its Digital Intelligence Team

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Police Department is expanding a new civilian division that they say is the future of catching criminals.

The Digital Intelligence Team – DIT – helps APD get evidence from phones and other devices. All three DIT members have backgrounds working in criminal justice and they’re already playing a crucial role in solving Albuquerque’s homicides.

“Phones are carried around by virtually every American right now, just as much as their fingerprints are, but they can tell us so much more,” said Kyle Hartsock, APD’s deputy commander.

The DIT uses phone records, location data and social media posts to help detectives identify and track down suspects.

“It’s kind of like taking pieces of a puzzle and putting them all together,” APD DIT’s Collette Bridgewater said, “and when you get them to fit, it just feels really good.”

APD says the team has made a difference – helping them charge 65 homicide suspects alone in the last six months. That includes the five suspects charged with the death of Trevonte Robbins.

Robbins and an APD officer’s car were shot downtown last year. Robbins died and police had no real leads until the DIT joined the investigation.

“Almost the entire case goes from a ‘We have no idea what happened here, where cop’s car got shot, this person’s dead, he has no apparent enemies, nothing that led up to this,’ to ‘five people being charged with murder,'” Hartsock said.

“We’re able to dig a little bit deeper,” Bridgewater said. “The more we know about the case, the more we can kind of understand if there’s a one-off message that might be related to something.”

According to APD, the DIT has been so successful that they are expanding the team from three to seven members.

“Our eventual goal for this unit is to be the center hub for our detectives to come to get information,” said APD Chief Harold Medina.

Chief Medina added the DIT is just one way APD is evolving to move beyond a shortage of officers and reduce crime in Albuquerque.

“It’s no longer that you have to come to APD and you have to make a huge difference, and you have to have a badge and gun,” he said. “You can come in highly educated, as these ladies are here. and you can use that education to solve some of the most heinous crimes in the city.”