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Health And Public Safety

New Collaboration Revamps the Handling of Mental Health Crisis Calls


A new program created by the Behavioral Health Initiative will change the way the Albuquerque Police Department [APD] and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department [BCSO] respond to priority one, 911 calls with someone experiencing a behavioral health crisis who is not violent. Once the pilot program begins, the Mobile Crisis Teams will be the “go to” first responders, consisting of a Crisis Intervention Unit deputy or officer paired with a masters’ level behavioral health clinician. The Mobile Crisis Teams will be on shifts which, based on data, show the greatest need and likelihood of receiving these types of calls. Gathered on Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque, surrounded by the mental health community, City and County leaders commemorated May as Mental Health Awareness Month and announced the new program.

“Today we’re here to show that together, as a community, we can make a real difference – we can put together all the pieces of a high-quality, comprehensive, and active, support system for people dealing with mental health issues,” said Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca. “One that embraces individuals and their families throughout what can be a very challenging process.”

Mayor Richard J. Berry echoed the County Manager, with his support for the partnership, “Through this collaboration and continued community engagement, we are creatively addressing mental illness, homelessness, prevention, crisis response, substance abuse and many more complex issues that impact so many of us throughout the Greater Albuquerque Region.”

Top brass from BCSO and APD voiced their appreciation of leadership in the community-engaged Behavioral Health Initiative and the new program, “We are extremely grateful for our partnerships who’ve helped create innovative solutions and more complete services for those experiencing mental health crises in our community,” said APD Chief Gorden Eden Jr. “These new teams ensure law enforcement is accompanied by mental health professions and have even more resources to assist individuals and families in need.”

“This program has the potential to benefit hundreds, if not thousands of people throughout the year. Currently, our 911 dispatchers receive more than 90 calls a month from people and or families who could benefit from the services provided by mobile crisis teams. We’re looking forward to this partnership with our brothers and sisters in law enforcement at APD because when we work with one another we are stronger, more capable and smarter,” said Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III.

Bernalillo County is contributing $1 Million and the City of Albuquerque is giving $456,291 to create the three teams. A joint Request for Proposal to secure an organization of clinicians can be requested via the Bernalillo County website.


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