From retaliation to redemption: A second chance through ABQ’s Violence Intervention Program
“It really took me by surprise, but I survived,” said Melvin Valdo. He was shot two years ago, and he says the first thing on his mind was retaliation – but he was introduced to a program that he says interrupted the cycle of violence for him.
Valdo says his life was saved by the Violence Intervention Program, which is part of the Albuquerque Community Safety Department. The department diverts calls like mental health crises and street callouts from police.
“It really helped to grab hold of the, I guess, trauma that happened to me, because, you know, I’m used to retaliating back right away,” Valdo said.
At an event Saturday, ACS behavioral health responders shared some stories of working in the field. ACS officials say, to date, the department has fielded over 50,000 in two years.
Major progress has also been made on the future home of ACS. The building is in the heart of the International District on San Mateo.
Valdo says his past life only ended in an ultimatum.
“There’s only two places you can go – prison or death,” he said.
For anyone out there looking for more, Valdo points to himself as an example of stopping the violence.
“There’s nothing to prove to anybody out here, because it’s only you that has to better yourself and make a future for yourself and make a home for yourself,” Valdo said.