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How Grotesque Can ABQ Get? Here’s The Answer

How Grotesque Can ABQ Get? Here’s The Answer

"Stop blaming the police for Victoria Martens’ death," says Marie Miranda

How sick and grotesque can Albuquerque get?

Answer: So grotesque that a retired Albuquerque cop who once investigated child abuse cases, and who took $50,000 of taxpayers’ money to say that cops needed to be better trained to recognize signs of child abuse, is now saying that it is a waste of time for cops to investigate child abuse allegations because, well, kids lie to cops.

This latest example of total sickness comes from Marie Miranda, a retired APD cop, who wrote an op-ed piece that should make everyone puke.

Here’s the background:

In 2014 Mayor Richard Berry used $50,000 of our money to study what went wrong with the Albuquerque Police Department’s response regarding murder victim, Omaree Varela. Omaree was the 9-year old child who was kicked to death by his mother days after Christmas 2013.

The person Berry paid for that study was retired APD command officer Marie Miranda. In her final report Miranda noted that APD was now training all officers in “scenario-based” training to help identify child abuse.

She recommended that APD provide even more specialty child abuse training for a group of first responders, noting that these offices should receive specialty pay and be available for dispatch to child abuse calls. Their special training will allow them to identify instances of child abuse at the first response.

The investigation into Omaree’s death resulted in APD officers being disciplined for mishandling prior calls regarding the child.

Miranda’s study ends with this comment, “Omaree Varela will forever remind us that we all have a duty to protect children and we should respond to each child’s call for help as if they were our own.”

But three years later, and just this morning, Miranda wrote an op-ed piece in the Albuquerque Journal that is another example of cowardly flip-flopping and refusal to take responsibility for anything killing this city.

Miranda started her op-ed piece by saying, “Stop blaming the police for Victoria Martens’ death.” She didn’t have that opinion when she was being paid $50,000 to investigate Omaree Varela’s death three years ago.

Miranda then attacks the grandparents of Victoria, who are now suing APD for not sending officers to a Child, Youth and Families Department referral that came in five months before Victoria was murdered. This referral stated that an adult man was trying to force himself upon Victoria in an attempt to kiss her.

In the months after Victoria’s death, APD Chief Gorden Eden was briefed by his Crimes Against Children Detectives that this referral happened and that APD officers were never dispatched. After this briefing, Eden allowed his two public information officers, Fred Duran and Celina Espinoza, to lie to the public by telling them that APD officers did respond.

Eden allowed his staff to put lies into Victoria’s mouth and did nothing to correct those lies.

Which takes me back to Miranda’s op-ed. Miranda states that the people are the actual offenders, which include Victoria’s mother, Michelle Martens, and Victoria’s grandparents. Miranda asks, “Where were John and Pat Martens for 11 years before the culmination of these deadly circumstances?” It’s a good question and it should be answered.

Then Miranda makes this statement, “A family’s duty to protect supersedes the duty outsiders may have.”

WRONG!

Miranda completely ignores the fact that New Mexico State Statute requires law enforcement to follow up on all allegations of crimes involving children. A “family duty” does not supersede state law. Miranda knows this and is trying to cover for Eden and others at APD who failed to do their jobs.

Miranda states that “most experts (she never names them) conclude it takes a victim multiple interviews before disclosing sexual abuse… In retrospect, it is easy to say police messed up, but it is unlikely Victoria would have disclosed anything… we should not assume she would have told the police.”

WHAT? That’s the killer.

The way I read it, Miranda is saying that cops should never investigate child abuse allegations because, well, kids lie and they’ll waste cops’ time. She didn’t say that in 2014 when she took our $50,000.

Using Miranda’s current logic it would make no difference for first responders to have been sent to the CYFD referral. It appears Miranda is now contradicting herself from the 2014 study when she said first responders need more training, as well as a special group of first responders dispatched to recognize signs of child abuse. But now she says it wouldn’t have mattered if officers went; Victoria probably wouldn’t have disclosed anything and the officers wouldn’t have recognized any signs.

Duran and Miranda need to stop putting words into Victoria’s mouth. No one knows what Victoria would have said to police officers if they had been dispatched to her March 2016 “kissing” referral. These people need to stop making up lies to cover up the fact that APD did not send an officer. Victoria’s memory deserves truth, not assumptions.

Miranda and others simply cannot come to grips that APD failed in their duty to respond to Victoria. Would she have been saved from her murder in August if APD had sent officers in March? No one knows. But what I can tell you is Victoria never had a chance because officers were never sent.

Victoria’s murderers must be brought to justice. But that is not where her case should end. Just like with Omaree, APD and the community needs to recognize that they failed her. APD failed her by lying to the community and saying they responded.

When I read the 2014 report from Miranda as compared to her 2017 op-ed, I can only come to the following conclusions: I want law enforcement to stop putting words into Victoria’s mouth. Words she never spoke. I want accountability from top APD officials, or we’re destined to have another Omaree, another Victoria.

And I want my $50,000 back and I want all these loser-apologists to just go away.

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Dan Klein

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque police sergeant. Reach him via Facebook and Twitter via @dankleinabq.

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9 Comments

  • Dan
    September 8, 2017, 4:51 pm

    Here is the link to the OP ED
    https://www.abqjournal.com/1060068/blame-for-victorias-death-lies-close-to-home.html

    REPLY
  • Steve A.
    September 8, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Disgusting. What planet is this person from?

    REPLY
  • Aya
    September 9, 2017, 9:44 am

    "“A family’s duty to protect supersedes the duty outsiders may have.”
    I gotta say, I love this.
    If this is going to be the new police fallback stance, it negates any usefulness APD may pretend to have entirely, and teaches us that we must care for one another and that once we are doing that, we need not keep this bloated budget sucking nightmare viable any longer.
    Let those cops go not risk their necks in some other profession, since they are only clean-up operations for whatever the people do to care for themselves, their families, and their neighbors.

    But seriously,
    The first and by far most important thing here is,
    APD covers their own asses with no regard to truth, decency or justice.
    For those who cannot extrapolate from available data, what this means is that we are employing a group of people to care for us who care only for themselves. Which makes them a liability and emphatically NOT an asset to the community.

    Would you hire a body guard who said:

    " Well, yah, I’ll watch out for you, as long as I don’t have to fight with anyone who comes after you.
    Your family should be caring for you.
    I don’t have to risk my safety insuring yours.
    I have a family I should be going home to no matter what at the end of this day you’re paying me for. "

    http://tribunist.com/news/supreme-court-ruling-police-have-no-duty-to-protect-the-general-public/

    From the article:
    "
    However, did you know that the government, and specifically law enforcement, does not have any duty to protect the general public? Based on the headline and this information, you might assume this is a new, landmark decision. However, it has long been the court’s stance that, essentially, the American people are responsible for taking case of their own personal safety.

    According to a 2005 ruling from the SCOTUS, the government doesn’t even have a duty to protect you if you’ve obtained a court issued restraining order. "

    See, they justify existing on them helping the community, deny responsibility for their own actions, then claim they’ve no responsibility to act to care for the people…..

    Congrats, ABQ.
    You do not have protectors and servers.
    you have an occupying force who pays themselves with your dollars, to write tickets to take your dollars and give it to idiot politicians who are powered by greed and the niggling understanding deep down inside that they suck at everything they do, and need to steal to get by, from people they have no business looking in the eye as equals.

    REPLY
  • Shari Tarbet
    September 10, 2017, 7:41 pm

    The truth is that training police to recognize child abuse or to even suspect it is as easy as the yearly training all teachers are required to undergo as they are required by law to report any child abuse they suspect based on learning what signs to look for. THis training would be just as easy for the police and to require them by law, if they aren’t already, to report and follow up on any suspected cases of child abuse. Yes, the police and other parts of this system are to blame, for if they had intervened as they were supposed to she might be alive today.

    REPLY
  • Your Name *
    September 19, 2017, 5:41 am

    Questions about the Safety of the Child and prevention of child abuse are central to this conversation.

    Evaluating the Safety of the Child in the instance of a Child Abuse report should be the first concern. This is best done by a person who has a degree and training in Child Welfare (Social services) not a police officer. A trained professional needs a degree and specialization in the same way a police officer has training and expertise. Child (and Elder) Welfare professionals have protocols and procedures regarding the investigation of child and other abuse. These protocols provide guidelines and Social Service agencies are more geared towards providing Safety for minors and other dependents There are many extenuating factors involved in determining the Safety of Child and possibly developing a safety plan if needed. And Of course there are many possible outcomes when investigating allegations of abuse.

    Many states have more successful models of evaluating Harm or Safety. Mass., Conn., and Maine have improved evaluating and investigation strategies and techniques and data about outcomes is available.

    At what point do leaders lead and facilitate a conversation around the Safety of Children and how we can do better in evaluating and preventing deadly outcomes?

    REPLY
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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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