Updated: June 15, 2020 01:03 PM
Created: June 15, 2020 08:05 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of the Albuquerque Community Safety Department at a press conference Monday morning.
Officials say the new department will serve as a civilian public safety branch to dispatch trained professionals to non-violent 911 calls. For example, the department would respond to calls involving mental health, addiction and homelessness – instead of armed police officers.
"We've placed more and more issues on the plates of officers who are not trained – despite their best efforts and despite some training – they're not totally trained to be a social worker, or to be an addiction counselor, or to deal with things around child abuse when they're just answering a call," Keller said.
The mayor said the aim is to refocus millions of dollars through the budget process into a public health model with civilian-led response.
"As we know and as we've seen with protesters in the past few weeks, a uniform police presence isn't always the best option if the goal is to deescalate a situation," Johnny Yarra, Albuquerque Police Department southeast area commander, said.
This announcement comes amid protests nationwide calling for the police to be defunded. Keller still plans to add 400 officers to the Albuquerque Police Department.
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