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Editorial: BCSO is wrong to sit on homicide info for months

In the old days, law enforcement agencies maintained police blotters at their front desks, listing every call an officer responded to in the past 24 hours. Blotters were brief but gave a general description and disposition of every call, letting the public know what the officers and deputies they were paying for were busy tackling.

With computers, blotters fell by the wayside. Reporters and the public now depend on what they pick up on radio scanner traffic, social media posts, 911 log sheets, delayed responses to IPRA requests and official news releases.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office has used email and Twitter when opening a homicide case, but last week unveiled not one, but two, homicides it kept under wraps.

One was in the Albertsons parking lot in the South Valley early Feb. 21. Jose Garcia, 21, was fatally shot and another man was shot in the head and arm. And on Jan. 16, Yahaira Rodriguez, 30, was found dead on Pajarito Mesa.

One would think a parking lot shootout and a body on the mesa would merit public alerts, but not BCSO.

The Albuquerque Police Department and N.M. State Police investigate many more homicides; each alert the public and media within hours. That’s how it should be. Waiting months to notify the public about a couple of bodies an agency found is unacceptable and raises the specter of what else is BCSO sitting on? Mayoral prospect Sheriff Manuel Gonzales should understand the public’s high interest in crime in their communities and correct this shortcoming. BCSO needs to treat the public as a partner, not an afterthought or worse, an enemy.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.