By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
It’s been an idea years in the making. Bring together the best law enforcement officers in the area to form a unit to tackle major crimes.
Homicides, armed robberies, child abductions and aggravated sexual assaults could all be investigated by a newly formed major crimes unit comprised of eight law enforcement officers from multiple agencies in Curry County, officials said.
“It’s extremely important to the public that law enforcement officers within our district work together to solve today’s crimes,” said District Attorney Matthew Chandler, who is also the chairman of the board of the major crimes unit. He said the unit would have jurisdiction in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
The crimes unit was conceived in the fall, Chandler said, however several agencies have been thinking about a team like this for years.
The board recently selected the team from a pool of applicants, and according to a press release from the district attorney’s office, members have more than 100 years of combined experience and training in crime scene investigations and detection.
Chandler called the formation of the crimes unit a proactive approach toward improving investigations.
Sheriff Roger Hatcher, who also sits on the board, said joining the investigative powers between his office, the Clovis Police Department and the district attorney’s office will lead to a more “cohesive” approach to major investigations.
“The actual evidence will be collected the same way every time,” Hatcher said. “It makes the prosecutors’ case a lot easier” because they can expect the same information will be included in every major case, he said.
The team will work and train together over the next months, and in June members will travel to Arizona and attend an advanced homicide crime scene investigation course.
“It’s not for the individual or department’s glory,” said Lt. Roger Grah of the CPD, who is a member of the team, “it’s to help the victims and solve the crimes.”
Chandler said the various agencies will bear the financial burden of having members on the team. He also said a mobile command unit, secured through federal grants, will be used by the team at crime scenes.
“That (command unit) will have the latest and greatest technology at the investigator’s fingertips, right there at the crime scene,” he said.
The crime unit’s board of directors will meet with New Mexico media today to discuss the major crimes unit in more detail.