by Marty Mayfield KRTN Multi-Media
RATON — In New Mexico the evidentiary part of a criminal investigation takes a long time to navigate. Case in point: DNA evidence has just recently been returned to the Raton Police Department on a two year old burglary case, according to Sergeant Noberto Dominguez, who spoke at the community wide neighborhood watch meeting at the Raton Convention Center Monday evening. Deputy sheriff sergeant Bill LaPorte said he too has just received DNA evidence back on a two year old case. It was also noted if video evidence is is good quality, it can be as important as DNA and lead to a much quicker result in arrests. LaPorte said in order for evidence to be used in court, it must be handled properly with a proper chain of custody to prevent tampering and maintain its integrity. Otherwise, it can be picked apart by a defense attorney and rendered useless or inadmissible in court. The video has to be retrieved as soon as possible after the incident occurs, and preserved on a device that can be protected from tampering. The video as evidence then makes its way through the judicial process following a rigid chain of custody. Rich Kuhns said regarding security systems, video is only the proof that someone entered your property. He said the best deterrent is light and noise, which most often is activated via motion detection equipment. You can also place signs indicating the premises are under surveillance around the property. He said in order for video to fully protect a structure, it could take eight cameras or more depending on the design of the building and based on the angle of coverage a camera can offer. Kuhns noted to make a security system effective you have to know what you are protecting: property or life. He added that most criminals steal for money, drugs, or food, and that keeping valuables picked up and out of sight is as important to protecting them as a security system. Programs like neighborhood watches and crime stoppers programs telling crooks they are being watched are also helpful. Recently, the crime stoppers program in Raton has been revitalized, and is getting underway with a website and Facebook page to help get the word out about crimes in the area that need help in solving. The Raton crime stoppers have also set up a tip line at 575-245-8477. Again, in order for this work, it takes community involvement. Crime stoppers will be presenting programs to Raton school students, and other organizations in the future. If you are interested in starting a neighborhood watch program, contact the Raton Police Department or Colfax County Sheriff, or contact Laura Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 575-445-8000.