Study: Behavioral Health related calls decreasing in Albuquerque | KOB 4

Study: Behavioral Health related calls decreasing in Albuquerque

Joy Wang
September 05, 2019 09:56 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The Albuquerque Police Department has implemented extra training sessions so officers can deescalate situations.

“We know this has been a challenge in our city for a long time,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “This is, in fact, part of why the DOJ came in to our department and into our cities because we have so many challenges in our department dealing with individuals who were you know having an episode because of drug addiction or because of mental health challenges. And we've seen many wrongful use of force situations because of that.”

Behavioral health calls are prevalent throughout the city.

“This is a very unfortunate reality,” explained Keller. “But it's also one we have to acknowledge, and we have to say this is a systematic problem. This isn't just about one neighborhood.”

A new report shows behavioral health related calls have gone down for the first time in nearly a decade.

“This is the first time we're seeing things go in the right direction,” said Keller.

The report also states from the 6,300 crisis intervention calls for service in 2018, only 1% involved use of force.

“It probably means a couple of people didn't get killed. That's ultimately what had been happening in the past,” expressed Keller. “So I think this has literally saved lives.”

There's a push to connect people with resources instead of making arrests. More than 70% of those calls led to people getting emergency services.

“You have to address the underlying problem. You also have to address the criminal justice system. You can't just round everyone up. They'll be right back out on the street,” said Keller. “And they won't get the help that they need.”

The mayor credits more training, a change in command staff, and a focus on community policing, but says there's still a lot more work to be done.

“Our biggest challenge continues to be hiring more police officers,” said Keller.

The goal is to hire 300 more officers over the next three years.


Joy Wang

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