Governor wants Amber Alert expansion

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — It was a custody battle that ended in the worst possible way.

In 2001, Richard Sanchez kidnapped his three young sons, Richard, Christopher and Daniel from his mother who had won custody.

They disappeared until 2009 when Sanchez's Ford Taurus was pulled from Cochiti Lake . Four bodies were inside, Sanchez and his sons.

Under New Mexico law, that case would not have qualified for an Amber Alert because those alerts are only supposed to be issued for non-family abductions where a child is in danger.

Governor Susana Martinez says that needs to change.

"We need to make [Amber Alerts] available for that angry relative that means to cause harm possibly to this child or never intends to return this child," Martinez said.

She's planning on supporting legislation this next session that would remove the non-family requirement for an Amber Alert to go out.

But could expanding Amber Alerts make the public tune them out? Amber Alerts are rare in New Mexico, and the federal website for the program explains why:

"Clearly, stranger abductions are the most dangerous for children and thus are primary to the mission of an AMBER Alert. To allow activations in the absence of significant information that an abduction has occurred could lead to abuse of the system and ultimately weaken its effectiveness."

State Police Chief Robert Shilling says there's a balancing act for police in parental abduction cases.

"It's a legitimate concern, law enforcement unfortunately gets injected into these civil disputes all the time, custody disputes and things like that," Shilling said.

But Shilling says the state can ensure Amber Alerts only go out in the most dangerous parental kidnappings.

"If we broaden the definition to include custodial, if they have those facts and circumstances, if they can articulate to us that the child is in danger and if it meets the criteria, by all means we should activate an Amber Alert," Shilling said.

Not having the new law hasn't stopped New Mexico from issuing Amber Alerts in certain parental kidnapping cases. In fact the most recent state Amber Alert was issued in late September when a mother kidnapped her 19-month old baby during a CYFD-supervised visit.

Lawmakers have tried to make the change before. In the most recent legislative session, Rep. Conrad James (R - Albuquerque) introduced an Amber Alert change that passed the state House unanimously. But it died in the state Senate without a vote.

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New Mexico (change)

New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.
Offices & Officials

Governor: Susana Martinez
Lieutenant Governor: John Sanchez
Attorney General: Gary King
Secretary of State: Dianna J. Durán

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