On Monday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced that unarmed social workers would be sent out to address some 911 calls, and that he would create a department to address these situations.
He stated, “We’ve placed more and more issues on the plates of officers who are not trained — despite their best efforts and despite some training — they’re not totally trained to be a social worker, or to be an addiction counselor, or to deal with things around child abuse when they’re just answering a call. We should have trained professionals do this, instead of folks with a gun and a badge.”
“There is a huge portion of our community that doesn’t necessarily want two officers showing up when they call about a situation with respect to behavioral and mental health. So this is a new path forward for us that has been illuminated because of what we’ve learned during these times,” he continued.
He spoke about the recent BLM protests across the nation, saying, “Look, there’s political will; there was not political will to make this huge of a step three weeks ago.”
Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier stated that police officers were “relieved,” by the decision, telling the Post that “This is the solution” to the overburdened and overworked police departments across the nation.
The new public safety department, called the Albuquerque Community Safety, “would refocus millions of dollars through the budget process into a public health model with a civilian-based response.”
On Tuesday, 6 out of 15 members of the Los Angeles City Council signed a motion that proposed using unarmed social workers instead of police officers to respond to the nonviolent calls.
“Councilman Herb Wesson, one of the authors, credited the efforts of Angelenos who took to the streets in recent weeks to call for the re-setting of priorities within the city budget, through a plan known as the ‘People’s Budget LA,’ a Black Lives Matter-led effort that calls for a drastic scaling back of the LAPD budget,” the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
Wesson stated that the protesters “have asked us to re-imagine public safety in the 21st century, and that is what we are doing … These calls need to be directed to workers with specialized training who are better equipped to handle the situation.”
“Multiple cities across the country as well as the federal government are working to update policies and respond to the nationwide protests calling for change to law enforcement practices. Many have suggested the use of social workers and specialized medics as first responders to help prevent police calls from escalating and turning violent, and several other U.S. cities have implemented such changes,” The Hill wrote.