BCSO details new behavioral health initiative, new manager

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office recently appointed its first behavioral health manager to spearhead the way deputies respond to mental health calls.

“It’s time for a culture change,” Sheriff John Allen said. “It’s time for something new to bridge the gap between law enforcement, with the sheriff’s office, and also our community.”

With that, Sheriff Allen introduces us to Diane Dosal, who began her law enforcement career 22 years ago.

Dosal began her career in the Gallup Police Department. Then, she moved into APD’s violent crimes unit and retired as a sergeant in the crisis intervention unit.

Dosal says her new role as BCSO’s behavioral health and compliance manager has been a long time coming.

“It’s frustrating when you’re working graveyard or even swing shift. A hospital might deny admission to someone that you’re bringing in that you don’t want to take to jail or you don’t have charges on. Having these alternate options, it’s crucial for the field. We want to know that there’s another option,” Dosal said.

That’s a top priority for Sheriff Allen. He says creating a behavioral health unit would expand the work that the mobile crisis team does now. Most importantly, it would create that other option.

“We also make sure that the community has a resource to outreach and bridge the gap of communication. We want to make sure that we’re serving all our community as a whole,” Sheriff Allen said.

In the most recent report, welfare checks, suicide threats and responding to a mental health patient made up more than half of the calls that their mobile crisis team responded to.

These calls mostly came from northwest Albuquerque and the South Valley.

Dosal says one of her goals is to hire more staff to better respond to those calls at all hours of the day.

“It seems like resources tend to be more limited after 5 p.m.,” Dosal noted, “and if we could just have options for officers on the weekends at night, and I’m sure that there are a lot of nonprofits that could be helping us.”

Bernalillo County is also working to increase pay for those positions.