Leaders from area law enforcement agencies on Wednesday called on Gov. Susana Martinez to sign a bill investing about $30 million in early childhood programs as a long-term crime prevention strategy.
The funding is part of the budget bill and another bill, both of which passed by the House and Senate, and includes money for pre-school, home visiting and childcare programs.
Officials from the Albuquerque Police Department, the Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety, the Los Lunas Police Department and the Bloomfield Police Department gathered a news conference Wednesday morning held by the national anti-crime organization, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.
“Child maltreatment today is the driver of crime and violence for tomorrow,” said Bloomfield Police Department Chief Michael Kovacs.
About 5,600 New Mexico children suffered abuse or neglect in 2011, according to figures reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Data shows that abused or neglected children are nearly 30 percent more likely to commit violent crimes, according to a report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.
“We need to fight child abuse and neglect in order to fight crime,” said Los Lunas Police Department Chief Roy Melnick. “What we know from research is that providing evidence-based home visits to at-risk families can help significantly reduce cases of abuse and neglect and later crime.”
Nineteen New Mexico children died as a result of abuse or neglect in 2010, Melnick said.