City asking for more public input on Community Safety Department

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque wants more input on what the new Albuquerque Community Safety Department should look like. It’s extending the deadline for its survey so more people can respond and KRQE News 13 is getting an early look at results so far.

Mayor Tim Keller announced the new department in June as an alternative to police going to certain 911 calls or as a support to them at certain scenes. The department responders would have backgrounds in social work, peer to peer support, counseling, or similar fields.

Almost 3,000 people have responded to the survey that launched in early August. So far, about 80% of respondents think the department should work on connecting individuals in need of social services to decrease future emergencies.

“And we actually feel very much the same. So, we actually are really thinking about ways we can be out there for non-emergencies so that we have less [sic] emergencies down the road,” said Mariela Ruiz-Angel, ACSD Coordinator.

In addition to 911 calls, the Community Safety Department will be providing follow-up services and connecting the community to services. When asked what types of services the department should connect individuals/families with, the top responses said 84.36% should be homeless services, 81.56% said drug treatment, overdose prevention, and/or needle exchange services, 80.57% said domestic violence services.

When asked, what type of calls Community Safety Department responders should go to without law enforcement, 48.74% of respondents said they’d feel ‘very comfortable’ with these officers responding to homelessness issues, 47.21% were ‘very comfortable’ with them going to needle pickups, and 45.47% said they were ‘very comfortable’ going to a welfare check.

When asked about what type of calls the Community Safety Department responders should go to with law enforcement, 30.74% of respondents said they’d be ‘very comfortable’ with the departments going together on calls of child abuse. Calls of child neglect, domestic disputes, and human trafficking were among other top responses.

“This is about sending the right response at the right time. So, potentially, it might not be that we need to go first to the scene but that we can maybe go and support officers after they’ve cleared the scene,” Ruiz-Angel said. “To be able to help whether it be victims, or help with mediation, whatever it might be, right, where we might be able to help and connect individuals to, we can jump in. We might not be first on the scene, we can be second or third. And so, I thought that was really telling of our community and what they felt could be a good partnership with our police department.”

While the survey is still open, the city is using the data as it comes in to set up the department.

“It’s like our guiding star. So, at the end of the day, whatever decisions we’re making, we know that we have to go back to that community input and those sessions and really think about, okay, does this decision align with the community needs and wants?” Ruiz-Angel said.

The department would be made of about 80 people, and based on community responses on what they’d like this department to do, would be made up of a lot of transfers from other city departments that already work in on issues like homelessness and completing welfare checks.

The survey is now open until the end of the year. The city has a proposed budget of $7.5 million for the department and hopes to have it up and running by early 2021.

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