ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque has been shoved into the national spotlight before when it comes to mental health issues for its officer involved shootings. But now the city says Washington wants the Duke City to spearhead summits to address solutions and gaps in that area.
The city made the announcement Wednesday that it will be one of the first cities to hold public summits to see what is and what is not working when it comes to mental health awareness and addressing mental health issues in the community
"This is a dialogue that the president and the White House has asked several mayors to get started on," Mayor Richard J. Berry said.
The city said Washington asked Albuquerque city leaders to spearhead summit meetings because of the programs the city has implemented to address mental health issues.
The city first started working on a plan to help mentally ill homeless in 2003 after an Albuquerque Police Department sergeant was shot twice by a homeless man suffering from a mental disorder.
After John Hyde, another mentally ill man, killed five people including two officers in 2005, APD hired half a dozen civilian crisis specialists to help intervene.
In the past few years, there have been several cases where police have shot people suffering from mental health disorders. The shootings were addressed in a 2011 city summit, and that sparked another program.
"It's all part of the big system that the mayor has been talking about since the last summit," APD Chief Ray Schultz said.
At the time Schultz announced APD would create a database of mentally ill people they've previously dealt with and allow the public to call and offer information about their family members suffering from a mental disorder.
Schultz said it started with about 17 names, and it's now close to 100.
"That information is fed to responding officers, but we've gone beyond that," the chief continued. "It's not just the officers."
The summit set for this weekend will address whether these types of programs are working. However, the city said the violent incidents are connected to only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of people who suffer from a mental illness in the state. Berry said 22,000 are children.
"Nine-point-one percent of greater Albuquerque students have attempted suicide in the past 12 months," Berry said. "That's a sobering statistic."
The city said the summit will allow anyone from the community to sign up and speak about what they believe is helping and where the gaps are to help the mentally ill. They hope to get children involved in the summit.
The summit called "Creating Community Solutions," is scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth Street SW.
The information gathered from the community will be shared with Washington.
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