Alibi V.27 No.20 • May 17-23, 2018 

Newscity

Human Trafficking Training to Improve

The News Monkey

A recent case has highlighted the usefulness of a training program for identifying markers of child abuse and human trafficking, leading the state's attorney general's office to announce that they will be expanding the training it provides to school and medical professionals.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that earlier this month, authorities arrested James Stewart for human trafficking, child abuse and promoting prostitution, and Teri Sanchez on child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to KRQE, the Albuquerque couple is accused of prostituting their 7-year-old daughter for drugs and drug paraphernalia. Despite multiple brushes with Albuquerque police and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, the alleged abuse remained unacknowledged until a nurse at the child's school contacted the AG's office to report the case.

In an announcement last week, Attorney General Hector Balderas said the nurse received special training to detect signs of human trafficking. The training has been provided by the AG's office as part of a yearly human trafficking conference since 2015. According to the announcement, last month's case has proven the effectiveness of the training, and it will now be offered to employees at Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces school districts.

Last month's human trafficking case has brought criticism against the CYFD, who reportedly made contact with the family on numerous occasions to investigate complaints made by staff at the child's school. In their reports, CYFD agents claimed to have found “nothing to cause concern of abuse.” APD's failure to recognize the issue has also been questioned.

MVD Takes Responsibility for Errors

The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division admitted last week that improper training led some of its clerks to deny driver's authorization cards to eligible residents, including the former mayor of Santa Fe.

Earlier this month, a temporary restraining order was filed against MVD by a number of plaintiffs. The order requesting that the division suspend its practice of denying eligible applicants from receiving a driver's authorization card or state ID while a lawsuit filed against MVD earlier this year is resolved. Clerks were reportedly turning applicants away if they were unable to present a social security card—a form of ID which state laws says is acceptable, but not required.

MVD's acknowledgment of improper procedure was given during a hearing in 1st Judicial District Court. Division officials said they were taking action to ensure that clerks were trained properly in what documents were required by law. Following the acknowledgment, the presiding judge ordered all attorneys involved in the case to come to a resolution on their own, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

PED to Improve Pre-K Funding

The Public Education Department announced last week that it will be increasing its funding for the state pre-K program.

According to KRQE, PED announced it will increase funding for pre-K school programs by $10 million—totaling $33.6 million. The department says the added money will allow 11 districts to offer pre-k for the first time while expanding existing programs.