Prefiled bill requests $5M to expand victim advocate program

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – The number of families disrupted by gun violence grows every year in New Mexico. As some work toward the end of killings, others are focusing on those who have lost the most.

The need for victim advocates is growing. Now, there’s a multimillion dollar request to expand victim advocate roles statewide.

KOB 4 spoke with a woman who knows the pain of losing a child, and she has seen first-hand the good victim advocates can do in our community.

“They know that we promised to hold them accountable during campaign season, now going into session,” said Nichole Chavez, a victim’s advocate.

Chavez’s run for the Roundhouse ended in an election defeat last year, but she is still hoping for wins on the crime fighting front.

“I’m actually talking to several lawmakers that are going to be presenting several different bills,” said Chavez. 

She says one of them is Democrat Rep. Miguel Garcia who’s filing House Bill 21 called the Gun Violence Victim Advocate Funding. It’s an annual $5 million ask to go to law-enforcement-based victim advocates.

Work that Chavez has seen first hand.

“From when your loved one is killed, which is obviously the worst thing that has every happened to somebody, trying to understand how this happened and who did it, to if you’re finally getting to that trial, it takes a year,” Chavez said. 

Chavez’s son, Jaydon Chavez-Silver, was shot and killed seven years ago.

“The society here in New Mexico – I think has become desensitized to homicide,” said Chavez in 2017.  

More than 400 homicides later, the need to support victims has grown.

With the increased violence, Chavez says APD and the Second District Attorney’s office has grown their victim advocacy programs.

“They have done a phenomenal job of really making that program work,” Chavez said. 

She says because detectives are overwhelmed with investigations, this $5 million should go toward staffing more victim’s advocate programs state-wide.

“It doesn’t matter what we do for living, where we come from, are we rich are we poor, are we Republican are we Democrat. This gun violence, this violent crime is effecting everybody,” said Chavez. 

We reached out to Garcia Monday about sponsoring this bill, but did not hear back.