December 03, 2019

NM Delegation Highlights Seven Department of Justice Grants to Strengthen Public Safety and Public Health

NM Delegation Highlights Seven Department of Justice Grants to Strengthen Public Safety and Public Health

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) andXochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded seven public safety grants to the City of Albuquerque, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, and Bernalillo, Dona Ana and Sierra counties.

Two grants will fund Albuquerque’s initiative to investigate sexual assault cold cases and reduce the backlog in Sexual Assault Kit testing. A statewide grant is designed to streamline DNA-testing capabilities. The DOJ provided additional funding to Sierra, Doña Ana, and Bernalillo counties to address the opioid crisis on a local level with behavioral health tools.

 “These grants to improve public safety are important steps forward in making New Mexico’s communities safer for all. When New Mexicans have the courage to come forward and report a sexual assault, they should be able to rely on public safety officials for a rapid and thorough response,” said Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I have also witnessed the disproportionate toll that the national opioid crisis has taken on New Mexican communities. The grants received today are welcome steps forward in treating the root of the problem as a public health emergency. I am heartened that these programs will build resilience and empower our communities to come together in support of those experiencing addiction.”

“It is critical that New Mexico law enforcement has the resources and capabilities to properly care for survivors of sexual assault and address the opioid crisis that has left communities devastated,” said Heinrich. “These important grants will allow local agencies across New Mexico raise public health and safety standards so that they can truly help those in need.”

“To best serve New Mexico families, it’s crucial that we work together to bolster public safety and public health across our state. Our communities need and deserve the resources necessary to eradicate crime, support sexual assault survivors, and combat the opioid crisis. These grants represent important progress, and I’ll continue fighting to strengthen the wellbeing of our communities,” said Assistant Speaker Luján.

“Survivors of rape and sexual assault deserve justice, but right now our state is still working through a rape kit backlog. This grant funding will help solve and prevent crimes by testing those kits, and it will also give our communities the resources to battle the opioid crisis so our families can heal,” said Haaland.

“Whether someone struggles with addiction or bravely reports a sexual assault, everyone deserve to have access to the full range of services they need. I’m proud to join our delegation in announcing seven grants that will support programs addressing the roots of these public health crises across our state,” said Torres Small.  

A full breakdown of the seven awards is below:

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD): $999,999 grant from the DOJ’s National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). This grant will sustain APD’s program to address the backlog in untested Sexual Assault Evidence Kits (SAEKs) and implement a statewide tracking system to prevent future backlogs. The kits include DNA evidence of alleged sexual assaults and information with the potential to identify perpetrators. The grant will also fund any investigations resulting from the backlog testing. APD also received $406,107 through the DOJ’s the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program to process the backlog in DNA evidence and update testing equipment. 

The New Mexico Crime Victims Reparations Commission: $1 million grant to investigate sexual assault cold cases in the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which will provide funding to test archived SAEKs and run the DNA evidence through a statewide database.

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety: $611,967 grant for the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program to reduce DNA processing turnaround and allocate more resources to forensic scientists in law enforcement.

Bernalillo, Sierra, and Dona Ana counties: $2.7 million in total grants addressing the opioid crisis affecting local communities. The funds connect the counties with the national Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program and standardize databases that track prescription opioids and disburse resources that use community behavioral health interventions to prevent overdose and opioid-related deaths.