By Tony Parra
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler is asking lawmakers for $50,000 he hopes will help spotlight and improve safety for senior citizens in Roosevelt County.
“There are many laws to punish those who abuse the elderly that are reactive,” Chandler said. “We want this to be proactive and an innovative approach to help save lives.”
Chandler said plans call for annual educational public forums on identity theft, strangers and home-safety issues. If approved, the money would also be used to create a database of senior citizens requesting regular telephone calls from law enforcement.
Chandler hopes the money could be appropriated for the district attorney’s office in 2007.
Chandler said he met with Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, on Monday to discuss the program.
Gardner said he expects to have a copy of the draft bill today.
Chandler is calling the safety program the “Newman Project” in memory of a Portales couple slain in March. The burned bodies of Odis Newman, 70, and Doris Newman, 69, were found by police in the trunk of their charred vehicle.
Jerry Fuller, 32, and Stanley Bedford, 41, both of Portales, are accused of kidnapping and killing the couple. Officials allege the Newmans’ killers had gone into their house and assaulted and robbed them before placing them in the trunk of their car.
“When that tragedy happened, it rocked that community,” Gardner said. “A lot of people were very close to them.”
Gardner said the New Mexico House of Representatives has been busy drafting more than 500 bills during the 30-day legislative session, which started on Jan. 17. Gardner said lawmakers have not approved any measures so far.