ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state Children, Youth and Families Department on Tuesday held its first Law Enforcement Summit, as part of its commitment to improve communications between the agency and law enforcement officers investigating cases of child abuse and neglect.
The summit at the Wyndham Hotel in Albuquerque drew more than 100 officers from law enforcement agencies in Albuquerque and northern New Mexico. A summit planned for later this year will be held for agencies in southern New Mexico, CYFD spokesman Henry Varela said.
“We’re here to start the discussion and come together and understand what our different roles are in child abuse investigations,” said CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson. “We want to improve communications and find ways to be a stronger team when it comes to protecting our kids.”
Consequently, she said, it’s important for law enforcement officers to understand the laws, policies and procedures CYFD employees must follow, and for CYFD employees to understand the laws, policies and procedures that guide law enforcement.
“We know we have the same end goals, its just about making sure we’re really clear as to how each department has to operate and what each department can and can’t do in the field,” Jacobson said. “So where we may not be in a position to do something that they can, we’re able to fully leverage that, and vice versa.”
Part of the summit was dedicated to providing a tutorial on CYFD’s new Law Enforcement Portal, a database that officers can access from their computers or mobile devices and which provides information gathered by CYFD about previous referrals and contacts with children and families and other relevant information.
“With the portal, even though a State Police officer may be going to an address for the first time, we’ll know if there were 10 other referrals,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas. “The idea is to connect the dots, to do better at intervention.”
Sgt. Amy Dudewitz, with the Bernalillo County Special Victims unit, said the officers and administrative staff in her unit use the portal on a daily basis.
“The goal is for any field officer to be able to access it,” she said. “It lets us see if there’s been recurring referrals, and we use the information to build our own data bases. … It makes the whole engine more robust.”