ACS adds new responders, prepares for 24/7 service

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque Community Safety has five new responders. It’s step one toward 24/7 in the next month and a half.

“We tend to have small batches, but the reality is they, they stack on,” said Mariela Ruiz-Angel, the director of ACS. “We’ve taken big, big risks. And each of those risks have led to big rewards. And I think this will be another one of those rewards.”

This class puts the department’s staffing in the ’80s. Ruiz-Angel says it’s aiming for 130, but believes it’s time to expand service now.

“24/7 is important, mostly because we know that crises do not stop at 2 a.m. in the morning,” said Ruiz-Angel. “Does it have to be robust? Probably not. But the reality is it needs to be there. We know this from other nonprofits when we’re trying to get people somewhere. It’s a need.”

ACS releases monthly reports on calls for services, their outcomes, and locations. Responders went to almost 2,700 calls in June alone. Data also shows a majority were for homeless people or welfare checks.

“We can show how often we’ve transported, we can show what different programs they went to, if they went to the hospital, if they went to HopeWorks, if they went to a shelter, all of that’s measured,” said Ruiz-Angel. “We’ve been able to demonstrate how long it took us if we went to a scene, did it take two hours, did it take five hours, did it take 30 minutes.”

ACS has already taken about 40,000 calls in that amount of time, diverting more than half of them away from APD.

The department has another 10 responders graduating next week, and the plan is to get 24/7 service up and running in the next month and a half. ACS will try it through December, then reevaluate.