Protocols already in place to help Albuquerque police make court appearances
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With the recent focus on Albuquerque police officers’ missed court appearances, KOB 4 looked more closely at them.
APD admits it needs to track officer appearances more closely.
On Thursday, Chief Harold Medina said APD is now investigating every missed appearance,
and he said it hasn’t been easy for the department to track them.
“I can’t wait till this could all come out because they will see the complexity of what APD has been working with. We just in the last two weeks finally got access to the court system where we could start easily looking at missed court notices ourselves and take more responsibility for that,” Medina said Thursday.
A department spokesperson told KOB 4 that Chief Medina will give more details on that technology soon.
While APD says they’re just now gaining the ability to track appearances, there are two systems in place that, for years, have been meant to help with communication.
The first started in 2007 because of how many times officer no-shows were leading to dismissed DWI cases.
It’s a court check-in system, a communication tool so officers know where to be and judges and other court personnel know if an officer may be held up in another courtroom.
A court spokesperson added that it’s up to lawyers and officers to make sure police show up,
and whether they do ends up in public record.
The spokesperson also mentions the Albuquerque Police Department courts liaison, a position that came about in 2014. It seems to be aimed at improving this communication even further.
On Friday, KOB 4 asked an APD spokesperson about what that person does, and whether they’re supposed to be tracking officer appearances, and the spokesperson said they’ll “have to check next week.”
APD does have a standard operating procedure for appearing in court, and there are only a few valid reasons for an officer to be unavailable.
Officers are supposed to check court dockets, emails and other notices to know when they have to show, and they have to give at least 20 days’ notice before any planned time off or training that would cause them to miss court.
“Department executive personnel shall grant an exception to the requirement to appear for such hearings if the employee is needed elsewhere for the betterment of the Department,” the standard operating procedure reads.
The SOP says that’s on a case-by-case basis, there are procedures for letting the court know if an officer has conflicting appearances.
Additionally, police officers are now allowed to appear virtually through video and audio to help them make appearances.