KUNM

Street Safe

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

There are headlines around the country about officers abusing their power, coercing, assaulting or trafficking sex workers. Not being able to trust police enough to report violent experiences is part of what makes people especially vulnerable to serial killers and rapists. Now, 10 years after a mass grave was discovered on the West Mesa, the Albuquerque Police Department is trying to rebuild trust and stop that from happening again. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s no secret that sex workers often don’t trust law enforcement and don’t ask police for help after incidents of violence. Officers around the U.S. are themselves arrested for trafficking, raping and abusing people on the street. Here in New Mexico, those stories pop up, too. And people who do that kind of work here say there’s a feeling that it’s either not safe, or that police won’t respond well if they report they’ve been attacked or assaulted. That can mean serial offenders go unchecked.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It was 10 years ago, on Feb. 2, that a woman walking her dog on Albuquerque’s West Mesa found a bone that turned out to be human. Eventually, the bones of 11 people were discovered there—two teen girls and nine women.

Family members and advocates gathered this weekend at the site to remember those who were killed, and to call for compassion for people living and working on Albuquerque’s streets.

Wikimedia Commons via CC

Several branches of law enforcement in the Albuquerque area participated in a sting last month that targeted people who were trafficking minors for sex. But the operation netted adult sex workers, and the agencies took different approaches to dealing with them.