Entries in Santa Fe (3)


Santa Fe Introduces GPS Tracking Instead of Jail Time For Burglars

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- Santa Fe has introduced a new system that tracks convicted burglars through GPS devices rather than putting them in jail. Police began monitoring the first offender last week.

The program will start with just five GPS devices to gauge its effectiveness and collect data.

Santa Fe Police Capt. Aric Wheeler told ABC News the idea for the program originated as an alternative to repetitive incarceration, which is expensive. It also did little to deter burglaries. Wheeler said that police would see an immediate spike in burglaries as soon as criminals got out of jail.

“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. You have to come up with new and creative ways to deal with them,”  Wheeler said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Doug Couleur told ABC News the program targets individuals facing long sentences, those with a large number of burglary charges, or people who have a juvenile history. Prosecutors and police will work in conjunction with the offenders’ attorneys to evaluate their cases and agree if the individual should be included in the program.

Couleur says within the negotiations, there are multiple issues that must be agreed to by the defendant in order to uphold the constitutionality of the program.

“A person who goes into the program has to specifically consent to it because they waive any issues to unrestricted access to their data by police department,” Couleur said. A clause in the program mandates employment.

“They can contribute to society and they have to go out and get a job. We can reintegrate them into the community,”  Wheeler said. “If they truly want to be rehabilitated and they know ‘Big Brother’ is watching them, I’m hoping they will be more reluctant to commit burglaries again.”

The anklets have two types of monitors, active and passive. Santa Fe police will track them passively, meaning the devices won’t give live GPS data to police computers. However, if there is reason for suspicion, such as multiple burglaries reported in one area, or if a crime fits the monitored burglar’s previous modes of operation, then police can send a request to the 3M, the GPS device company, to get the live locations so they can intervene.

The plan could also be beneficial for many cities and states struggling fiscally, as it could be a way to alleviate the financial toll of incarceration. It could also help the problem of jail overcrowding. These issues were major catalysts in initiating the plan.

Couleur agreed, telling ABC News, “You can’t put everyone in jails. There is no money for new jails and there are no beds in the jails. There have to be alternatives for jails and this is a pretty good one.”

Not everyone thinks this is such a good alternative. Assistant Public Defender Joseph Campbell thinks defendants might not “really understand the full ramifications to what they are agreeing to.”

“If this person picks up new charges through the monitoring program, as a defense attorney I am going to look at whether that initial plea was voluntarily and if they knew it could come back and hurt them,” Campbell said.

However, Wheeler told ABC news he believes this is the “technology of the future,” and thinks even though it is still in its preliminary stages, the program has a lot of potential.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Robbie Romero Case DNA Results: Teen Is Not Missing Boy

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- The teenager claiming to be Robbie Romero is not the missing boy, after all, according to DNA results released Friday.

Nineteen-year-old Robert Terrezas' DNA did not match with Romero, who disappeared in June 2000 at age 7, police said.

Terrezas met with Romero's mother, Evelyn, and his brother Ricky earlier this week, and told to police that he was Robbie.

Evelyn and Ricky Romero remained unsure whether the teen was the little boy who went missing while walking home from a friend's house one summer afternoon.

The police have said that Romero's disappearance is still an open case, though his older brother, Ronnie Romero, was the only person of interest in the case and died in 2008. Investigators classified the disappearance as a missing persons case and a homicide, but a body was never found.

Evelyn Romero told ABC News earlier Friday that she was being cautious about raising her hopes that Robert Terrezas was her missing son.

On Wednesday, police learned that Terrezas was claiming he was Robbie Romero.

Terrezas made the eerie claim to Ricky Romero and told him he goes by Robbie's name, according to ABC affiliate KOAT.

Ricky Romero brought Terrezas to the Romeros' home, where he met with Robbie's mother, Evelyn Romero. She then notified the police.

The police took a swab of saliva from Terrezas for DNA testing on Wednesday night, according to Santa Fe detective Lt. Luis Carlos.

Evelyn Romero said the wait for the DNA test results was trying.

"It is [hard], especially for Robbie's brothers and sisters, who have a lot of anxiety just not knowing," she said.

Yolanda Almendariz, Terrezas' mother, told a local news station that the teen was not Robbie Romero, and was born in Mexico and moved with Almendariz to Utah years ago.

"This is my son, this is my son," said Almendariz, who showed local news station KOB childhood photos of the boy. "Friends call my son Robert Romero because they have the same face."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Robbie Romero: Teen Claims to Be Missing Santa Fe Boy

Robbie Romero was last seen on his way to a friend's home in the Bellemah area of Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 7, 2000. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- A teenager has told police in Santa Fe, N.M., that he is Robbie Romero, a boy who vanished more than 10 years ago at the age of seven.

Police spoke with the 18-year-old Wednesday night following a confidential phone call alerting them that someone was claiming to be Romero, according to detective Lt. Luis Carlos.

The teen told police he was indeed Robbie Romero and agreed to give a swab of his saliva for DNA testing.

Robbie Romero disappeared in June of 2000 as he was walking home from a friend's house. The case was treated as a missing person case and a homicide case, though a body was never found.

Police said that the man they spoke with Wednesday told them certain details that were significant before deciding he didn't want to talk anymore and walking away.

Carlos said that police do have some identification documents that match the man they spoke with, though Carlos would not say if those documents identify him as Robbie Romero.

"I'm going to have to remain stoic on that because I don't want to give the family a sense of hope or not. We can't speculate. We are cops and we have to know the facts first," Carlos said.

ABC News affililate KOAT reports that the man told police had been living in a neighboring state but had been in Santa Fe for years. He has not been questioned about who took him, according to the report.

Police contacted the mother of the missing boy, Evelyn Romero, and told her of the events. Carlos said she was reserved and did not want to get her hopes up at the news. Police have also heard reports that the man has met with Evelyn Romero, who was unsure whether or not it was her son.

Police are monitoring the current whereabouts of the man in case the DNA test comes back positive, in which case they will consider the case closed. The DNA testing was sent to multiple labs in Santa Fe to expedite the typically month-long testing process, police said.

Romero's older brother, Ronnie, was long held as a person of interest in the case, though he was never charged. He died of a heroin overdose in prison on unrelated charges in 2009.

In addition to Ronnie Romero's death, Robbie's father Rudy has also died since Robbie disappeared. Evelyn Romero has publicly criticized the Santa Fe police department for their mishandling of the case and their accusations of Ronnie.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio