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Security systems discussed at Raton neighborhood watch meeting

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 2-year old burglary case, noted RPD Sergeant Noberto Dominguez at the community wide neighborhood watch meeting held at the Raton Convention Center Monday evening. Deputy sheriff sergeant Bill LaPorte noted that he too has just received DNA evidence back on a 2-year old case. When asked about video evidence, it was noted that if it is good quality, video evidence could be as important as DNA and lead to a much quicker result in arrests. LaPorte said that in order for the evidence to be used in court, it had to be handled properly with a proper chain of custody to prevent tampering and maintain its integrity, so it can’t 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 noted in his comments on security systems, video is only the proof that so and so entered your property. He recommended 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. He noted in order for video to fully protect a structure, it could take as many as 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 most criminals steal for money, drugs, or food, and keeping valuables out of sight is as important to protecting them as a security system. Programs like neighborhood watches and crimestoppers programs that tell crooks they are being watched are also helpful. Recently, the crimestoppers 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 crimestoppers have also set up a tip line at 575-245-8477. Again, it was noted that in order for this work, it takes community involvement. Crimestoppers will be presenting programs to Raton school students, as well as to other organizations in the future. If you or your neighborhood is interested in starting a neighborhood watch program and would like more information, contact the Raton Police Department or Colfax County Sheriff, or contact Laura Brewer for information used in starting the neighborhood watch program in north Raton. Contact Brewer at lauralee1341@msn.com or by calling 575-445-8000.