VICTIM NOTIFICATION SYSTEM TO BE ACTIVATED IN DOÑA ANA COUNTY

VICTIM NOTIFICATION SYSTEM TO BE ACTIVATED IN DOÑA ANA COUNTY

Doña Ana County Sheriff Juan Hernandez has announced that a victim notification system will be activated in Doña Ana County in a few weeks.

Using an $85,000 legislative appropriation from Sen. Mary Kay Papen, Sen. Leonard Lee Rawson and Rep. Joseph Cervantes, Hernandez will buy hardware and software to put the system in place. Once activated, the system will allow deputies in the field to assign individual ID numbers to men and women arrested for violent offenses. Victims of crimes will be able to use the unique numbers to track the whereabouts of people charged with or convicted of violent crimes.

"Let's say we arrest a guy on a domestic violence charge," Hernandez said. "We'll give the woman the ID number attached to the case. She'll be able to call in to the Detention Center on an automated line and punch in the number to determine whether he's still in jail or has been released or transferred to another facility. In addition, she can give us her phone number, which the officer will program into the system so that she can be automatically notified when his release or transfer is being processed."

The system can be used in conjunction with any violent crime, Hernandez said, including rape, domestic violence, assault, child abuse, etc. Victims will be given the option of whether to participate and at what level they want to participate -- either with an active process that automatically calls with a change notification or a passive process by which the victim calls in to determine the status of the offender.

The system will be accessible 24 hours a day, every day of the year, Hernandez said. It will also interconnect with area victim-service providers, such as La Casa Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence.

"This is another concrete way we can help protect innocent people from predators," Hernandez said. "If even one life is saved because a victim is alerted to the fact that a violent offender has been released, then the investment and set-up is worth every dime and every hour."

Hernandez said he wanted to thank Sen. Papen, Sen. Rawson and Rep. Cervantes for supporting it through the legislative process. He said Gov. Bill Richardson also should be recognized for signing the bill.

For more information on the Victim Notification Program, call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7229.