Lead investigator does behind the scenes work at DA’s office

By William Thompson: Quay County Sun

Frank Gutierrez, the lead investigator for the Quay County District Attorney’s office, helps investigate upwards of 50 cases a month. He said he spends a lot of time tracking down victims and prosecution witnesses reluctant to testify.

“In the past month I’ve had to track down around 30 people,” Gutierrez said. “I’m not always successful. Sometimes victims are never found and the cases have to be dismissed. That happens a lot in lower-degree felony cases.”

Gutierrez successfully finds victims and witnesses by keeping in constant contact with about 40 other investigators statewide. He recently located a Tucumcari stabbing victim in Mississippi and urged him to cooperate with the district attorneys office. The stabbing victim eventually came back to testify.

“If I’m trying to find someone, I will often call an investigator in Albuquerque who uses computer software to find people,” Gutierrez said. “Once I find out where a person is, I usually just contact the local police department and they contact the individual. My job is usually to just let the person know that the district attorney needs to speak to them.”

Gutierrez said he also interviews suspects or potential suspects on occasion.

“I don’t try to trick anyone,” Gutierrez said. “Getting a suspect to talk comes about from treating them with respect and honesty. My job is to find out the truth. The district attorney,
Ron Reeves, tells me to just find out the truth.”

Gutierrez said suspects cooperate with him as a result of their conscience. They are not required by law to cooperate with him.

It’s finding out the truth in a case that keeps Gutierrez working at a job which has him on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“I like helping people by finding out the truth,” he said.

Gutierrez was the Sheriff of Harding County for one term and
the Logan Chief of Police for nine years. His current job requires at least five years of investigative experience in law enforcement.

Gutierrez sometimes works on details of criminal investigations, at the district attorney’s request.

“I’ve found that burglaries are the hardest crimes to prosecute because there are often no witnesses,” he said.

“I’m a part of most of the cases that pass through the district attorney’s office. Most of the time I’m tracking down criminal histories from various municipalities all over the country.”
Nancy English, an assistant district attorney, said Gutierrez is a fundamental part of the office.

“His work is very crucial to us,” English said. “I depend on his law enforcement experience. There are times when I don’t know a particular procedure so I ask Frank. He knows more about how to do some things than I do.”

Gutierrez said everyone in the district attorney’s office works together as a team and there is no magic key to unlocking the secrets of cases.

“There is no such thing as a text-book case,” he said. “You have to use different techniques with different cases. You have to hit each case with an open mind.”