New proposal to boost funding for victim advocates

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SANTA FE, N.M. — A proposed funding boost for victim advocates took a big step forward this week. House Bill 21 cleared its first committee Friday with a unanimous vote.

The bill is calling for an extra $5 million per year to fund victim advocate programs inside law enforcement agencies across the state.

Albuquerque police launched one of those programs back in 2021. Department liaisons help victims of violent crimes find community resources and services, but most importantly they provide updates on investigations.

Nicole Chavez who’s teenage son was killed in a drive-by shooting, says the program makes sure the people most affected by violent crime aren’t forgotten.

“Imagine your child is murdered, and you have no idea why, who did it, and no one is reaching out to you, nobody, and it’s been weeks. And you’re wondering, did they forget about my child? Is anyone helping with my case? Are they going to find out who did this? And so now there’s somebody that does that, and that makes a huge difference,” said Chavez. 

Chavez was at the Roundhouse Friday when the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the proposal. She believes it’s a sign lawmakers are listening.

“I think what was surprising is they seemed a little shocked that we already didn’t have that funding and programs, which, you know, for us as crime victims, it’s nice that we finally feel heard, and people are listening,” said Chavez.  

It’s not clear when HB 21 will land in it’s next committee.

Track HB 21 during the legislative session.