Former APD officer now a mental health advocate

Created: 03/31/2014 10:37 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Retired Albuquerque Police Sergeant Carol Oleksak is on a mission to prevent future episodes like the James Boyd shooting - and like the one that came close to taking her own life.

Oleksak doesn't want what happened to her to happen to anybody else. In 2003 a schizophrenic man who was off his medications and out of control shot her in the head while she was on duty near UNM. He was Duc Minh Pham, a mentally ill immigrant from Vietnam who was known as a "time bomb" to police who feared his accelerating violent behavior.

"He's dead now," Oleksak said in an interview at her ranch in Sandoval County. "He shot me and so the officers didn't have a choice. He fired at the officers and they had to fire back and they killed the guy - which is unfortunate. If they had that mandated treatment for people who are mentally ill and dangerous, he might have survived. At this point he might still be alive."

Oleksak is talking about Kendra's Law, which requires mental patients who have been declared "dangerous" in a legal hearing to take their medications and get psychiatric treatment, or get locked up. New Mexico is one of a handful of states where such a law is not on the books.

Oleksak thinks a lot about  the Albuquerque Police Department, now the target of protesters and an FBI probe, where she served for 20 years.

"The best thing I think you can do is pay better and get better officers, better educated officers. Train them properly and keep them rather than lose them to another state where their pay is better."

Oleksak's life now is pretty much dedicated to her ranch and her livestock. She raises huge Anatolian Shepherd dogs, miniature horses and emus. She somehow finds time to speak out in favor of Kendra's Law whenever she can.

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