Mayor Tim Keller announced Tuesday that the city of Albuquerque will be introducing a new “first-of-its-kind” department which will respond to 911 calls involving mental health issues, inebriation, addiction, and homelessness.
The new department will be known as Albuquerque Community Safety, and according to Keller, will allow police officers to focus on violent crime.
Keller, a Democrat, said the new group, Albuquerque Community Safety, would refocus millions of dollars through the budget process into a public health model with a civilian-based response. He added that the new model will allow police officers to focus their time on violent crime.
The mayor’s office said the new initiative was “not pretending that people will stop calling 911 or needing a first responder” and would not ask “police to do more without giving them more resources.”
The Hill reports that Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier is apparently happy with the decision...
Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier said, according to The Washington Post, that his officers are “relieved” by the creation of the new department, which would help lighten officers' workload, and called it a "solution" to police departments that are overwhelmed with calls and cases.
How do citizens feel about the announcement?
Reception has been mixed...
It's clear the mayor is concerned about sending police officers into situations for which they lack adequate training.
“We want to send the right resource to the right call — especially where a social worker or trained professional can connect people with the services they need, instead of simply taking folks to jail or the hospital, which have been the only choices until now,” Keller said.
Sounds great on paper.
But is he at all concerned about sending unarmed social workers into potentially violent situations for which they lack training?
Only time will tell how this situation plays out. Let's hope, for the sake of the citizens and social workers of Albuquerque, that Keller knows what he's talking about.