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New Mexico’s largest city will now respond to certain emergency calls with social workers instead of police officers.
The left’s push to defund and dismantle police departments in the wake of the death of George Floyd has sparked some radical moves like the announcement in Albuquerque of a “first-of-its-kind” model of a civilian public safety department to respond to some 911 calls.
“When you call 911, all across America, the response is fire or police or both,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced at a news conference Monday.
“We’re adding a third response into that equation by developing a civilian, professionally trained approach, a public health approach really, to public safety,” the Democrat added, introducing what the city is calling the Albuquerque Community Safety Department.
The “cabinet-level department” will be removing armed and trained police officers from handling situations such as those dealing with homelessness, addiction and mental health. Instead, unarmed professional social workers will be responding to non-violent calls in an effort, reportedly, to take the strain off the police department.
“We’re creating a new model for community safety that sends the right resource at the right time on the right call and that’s where our current two departments have always struggled,” Keller said.
— Mayor Tim Keller (@MayorKeller) June 15, 2020
“By sending police to all of these calls, we were doing more than overburdening these officers,” Albuquerque’s Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair said. “We were sending the message that a wide range of social issues including poverty, substance abuse, and behavioral health challenges were, in fact, criminal problems.”
Though Albuquerque officers have undergone “Crisis Intervention Training” to deal with calls involving mental illness, Keller believes the new plan goes further.
“This whole concept of just asking the officer to get some training and do more for new problems… we’ve really gotta think about,” he said. “This is something different, we would hope that again, the non-violent, or non-criminal welfare checks could be done by unarmed civilians who are professionally trained.”
Officers were reportedly “relieved” by the plan, seeing it as a “solution” for overwhelmed departments, Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier told The Washington Post. The Albuquerque model was revealed just as the New York Police Department made the stunning announcement Monday that it would no longer be using certain plain-clothes officers.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 16, 2020
Soon after the mayor’s announcement, the Albuquerque Police Department and its Emergency Response Team were on scene at a protest where a shooting occurred and armed unregulated militia members were arrested.
Keller insisted the plan was not going to take away funding from the police departments.
“It’s in no way changing any of our approach with respect to addressing crime from all sides, and that’s also including hiring more officers. We have to do that,” the Democrat mayor said. “Their plates are just totally full right now, trying to be everything to every call, so this also should allow them to focus on crime fighting.”
“We’ve placed more and more issues on the plates of officers who are not trained — despite their best efforts and despite some training — they’re not totally trained to be a social worker, or to be an addiction counselor, or to deal with things around child abuse when they’re just answering a call,” Keller said. “We should have trained professionals do this, instead of folks with a gun and a badge.”
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