DA’s office responds to report about officers skipping court

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A report published by The Paper shows since May 2019 there are about a thousand instances of law enforcement officers failing to appear in court – and hundreds of cases were dismissed as a result.

KOB 4 took the data to the district attorney’s office to examine what went wrong, and what’s changing. It appears that since 2019, officers are missing court less often.

Ryan Laughlin: “Is this because there truly is less cops failing to appear, or is it because we’re trying fewer cases now than we were in 2019?”

Joshua Boone: “I think it’s a combination of both, but I’m going to say it is actually fewer officers failing to appear.”

Boone is the chief deputy district attorney in Bernalillo County. Previously, he oversaw the metro court division. He pointed to data he tracked closely in metro court with DWI cases.

“To give you an idea, the overall FTA rate in 2018 was, we’re talking about a 50% rate, for why cases were being dismissed,” Boone said. “When you get to 2021, OK, the officer FTA rate for court drops dramatically.”

Boone said utilizing remote capabilities, along with changes the state Supreme Court has made, has made an impact. The New Mexico Supreme Court is also testing out another pilot program now.

“Where officers are no longer required to do pretrial interviews,” Boone said.

A vast majority of officers failed to appear when they were required to show up for pretrial interviews – that requirement has been suspended, but only in metro court.

“The reason was because they write a report about it, they filed a criminal complain about it,” Boone said. “And, oh yeah, they have a whole camera system recording everything that they were doing.”

Boone would like to see body camera footage used in lieu of pretrial interviews to be expanded to district court too.

KOB 4 reached out to the state Supreme Court Tuesday and a spokesperson said there is no deadline for deciding what will happen next with the pilot program.