ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – One of the city’s newer departments, Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS), which helps take the load of non-emergency calls away from police and fire, is getting more involved. Starting this weekend, ACS will launch a full 24/7 service for the first time.
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“When somebody calls 9-1-1, you may get a firefighter, a police officer, or in Albuquerque you may get a behavioral health responder from the Community Safety Department,” said Mariela Ruiz-Angel, director of ACS. ACS has been on the ground for nearly two years, responding to calls for people sleeping in the streets, domestic violence, and other health issues.
“It’s a big resource to our officers and our firefighters who really just need to be concentrating on other types of calls while we can focus on these lower-acuity mental behavioral health calls,” Ruiz-Angel said.
In their first year, ACS took around 30,000 calls. Now in their second year, what Ruiz-Angel calls “a year of refinement,” she said ACS has proven their system works and they’re ready to do more. “We know that we can build off of this now and really figure out how to make it long-term and sustainable,” Ruiz-Angel said.
Starting Saturday, ACS is “going graveyard” for the first time — adding a shift between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. — to finally give the community 24/7 support. “This will be a little bit of a game-changer, and ultimately it’ll really help us level out to understand when is ACS really needed, when can we staff less, right,” Ruiz-Angel explained.
Ruiz-Angel said more funding and staffing has helped them be able to offer the expanded service. They hope it helps better gauge where and when they’re most needed. “We are the first in the nation to really be able to bring this team to full 24/7 so we’re going to go ahead and ease into it and treat it just like we treat anything that we start new,” Ruiz-Angel said.
ACS currently has around 80 employees and has more coming on. They hope to be fully staffed by the next fiscal year.