December 18, 2022

Albuquerque unveils new program to improve response to domestic violence calls to police

Jordan Meeter

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On the heels of a spike in domestic violence over the Thanksgiving holiday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller introduced a new Albuquerque Domestic Abuse Response Team, or DART, program.

Keller held a press conference earlier this month to introduce the program.  He said that over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Albuquerque Police Department, “saw the highest call volume in recent memory for domestic violence.”

“We know this is terrible and tragic in many ways,” he said.

Keller invited several members of the community and his staff to talk about domestic violence and the importance of seeking help if one is a victim of domestic violence or intimate partner violence during the press conference. Albuquerque Chief of Police Harold Medina talked about responding to domestic violence as an officer. He said that, as a younger officer working the graveyard shift, he often handled domestic violence calls and while driving victims to an undisclosed shelter, they frequently worried about “how to survive.”

Medina said the Albuquerque Police Department is creating a new unit with officers specially trained in domestic violence so that when a domestic violence call comes into the APD, “we’ll make sure we’re dispatching the right individual out there to get them [the victim] in contact with all the resources out there.”

Bev McMillan, Family Advocacy Center coordinator, said during the press conference that the day of the Super Bowl is typically the day with the highest amount of domestic violence calls for police.

Often, she said, it’s because drinking and betting is involved in watching the game.

APD has received more than 6,000 calls for domestic violence this year, McMillan said. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, APD received more than 8,000 calls for domestic violence, she said.

George Vega, commander of the APD Criminal Investigations Division, said the APD has received a grant for more than $56,000 and the department is using it to create DART. He said 20 officers will receive specialized training to handle domestic violence and stalking calls. 

“We expect the program will speed up the time it takes for victims to get services,” he said.

APD will implement the program next year.