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Albuquerque has new response to 911 calls involving mentally ill people

The New Mexico City created a third branch of public safety, in addition to the police and fire departments, staffed by behavioral health responders.

With one of the highest rates of fatal police encounters in the nation, New Mexico has been under Department of Justice supervision since 2014. A DOJ investigation found the Albuquerque Police Department routinely engaged in excessive and deadly force, including against people with mental illness.

The city created ACS as an alternative solution. ACS recruits and trains members with backgrounds in social work, counseling and peer support. Two-person behavioral health teams are dispatched when nonviolent and nonmedical emergencies arise and are equipped with training to assess situations like mental health crises.

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