Albuquerque’s Community Safety Department becomes national role model

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque’s fairly new Community Safety Department is quickly becoming a national role model. 

“It really does feel validating that we can be a model that we can, we can help set the precedent for what alternative response looks like throughout the nation,” said Joshua Reeves, division manager. 

A recent nationwide survey conducted by Safer Cities used the Albuquerque department as an example for a poll on community responder units. 

According to the survey, 78% of voters across all major parties support establishing similar programs in their own communities. 

Reeves says ACS is already working with officials in Durham, North Carolina to build their own Community Safety Department. 

He says other cities have reached out to ACS with logistical questions as well.  Despite the national inquiries, Reeves says the Albuquerque department is still facing new challenges. 

“When you have a program that’s so new like this, there aren’t a lot of precedents that are set, because we’re unique, because there are different problems, we now have to come up with unique solutions that have not ever been solved before,” he said.

Since it’s formation in May 2021, ACS has responded to more than 21,000 calls across Albuquerque. That figure includes calls made directly to ACS and calls passed along from APD. 

Reeves says the department has mostly responded to welfare checks and behavioral health emergencies.  

He says the department is currently struggling to keep up with the call volume. He also says ACS only has 42 community responders (but 14 more are on the way), and the department is not 24/7 like other emergency services in Albuquerque. 

“I’ve said from the beginning, is that we’re building the plane as we fly it, and I think that is the nature of the game across the board,” he said.

ACS representatives say construction on a new, permanent facility for the department could begin early next year.