ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Joshua Reeves is a division manager of Albuquerque Community Safety, a group created in 2021 to aid police on call-outs.
“You think about it in any job, right, if someone came along and said, ‘hey, you know, that thing that you’re either not equipped to or you don’t want to deal with? What if i do that for you?’ You’re obviously going to love that person,” he said.
Since its creation, ACS has taken just over 11,000 calls instead of the Albuquerque Police Department. The calls range from welfare checks to behavior health issues.
From August to October, there were more than 4,000 calls for behavior health responders.
“A grandmother who called us and she was concerned about her granddaughter who was addicted to drugs had been so, and she didn’t know how to help her get out of this cycle. And that’s not necessarily something that police can really take on and figure out how to navigate for them. And so, we’re able to say, ‘where can we find her,’ and we’re able to take the time to find her talk to her,” said Reeves.
The most ACS callouts came from District 2, the downtown area, with over 400 calls. Then there’s District 6 with over 300, which includes the International District.
Reeves said after reviewing this data, they want to work on creating area commands to better reach out to those most in need.
In a statement Chief Harold Medina said:
““Mayor Keller’s decision to create an alternative response to non-violent calls is making a real difference in Albuquerque. Our community needed a third branch to our public safety response and already ACS has helped decrease APD’s call volume and is freeing up our officers to respond to higher priority calls.”
ACS is still limited however, currently only the Mobile Crisis Team can take people in for a psychiatric evaluation, but it is in the process of unionizing, and trying to be less of a temporary fix.
“I think just the nature of jobs, the institutions sometimes is that you don’t have that clear channel of feedback and communication and again. That’s not anybody’s fault, what we want is this formalize way to make our voices heard, to have some power,” said Quinn Mulhern, a member of ACS trying to unionize.