New Mexico’s MMIP initiative earns national recognition
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Employees from the FBI’s Albuquerque division and state partners were recognized by the Department of Justice. Their Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative is getting national recognition with a “Partnerships for Public Safety” award.
“One of the first questions I ask is like, ‘Why me?’ and I say that because there were so many community advocates, there were so many families who were advocating and doing exactly what we did, who I think also deserve recognition,” said Dawn Begay, the liaison for the Native American Affairs Office with CABQ. “This was a small piece in a larger initiative.”
The FBI started its statewide database for missing relatives in July of 2022 — and that list is updated monthly. As of mid-January, there are 207 people on the list.
Since 2022, around 600 people have appeared on the list and they’ve gotten answers for more than 360 families.
“Now we don’t always know what ‘resolved’ means, sometimes individuals are deceased, sometimes they could have returned home safely. But in all of those 360 cases, that is resolution for the families that reported someone as missing and now they know the resolution of the case,” said Donald Metzmeier, FBI intelligence analyst.
As of January 2024, they have also seen a 40% decrease in the length of time it took family to report a missing relative to law enforcement.
“The longer you wait, the longer your recollection, in terms of details, will diminish,” Begay said. “Evidence will also diminish — it is harder to track people. So the earlier you can report it, the quicker you can have the report on file and assigned to an investigator.”
That itself is an improvement that wasn’t possible a few years ago, without critical partnerships in place.
While the recognition feels good, they say what is coming out of it is even better — other states turning to New Mexico to jumpstart their own statewide databases.
“We were kind of excited because two days ago Wyoming announced through the FBI, their own initiative, which is very similar to what we’ve done here,” Metzmeier said.