Albuquerque to Dispatch Unarmed Social Workers to Some 911 Calls Instead of Police
New Mexico city caves to far-left pressure to abolish police departments
Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city, has announced that it will now send unarmed social workers out to deal with some 911 calls instead of police officers.
The announcement came just hours before Albuquerque police detained alleged members of an armed civilian group when a protest erupted in gunfire Monday.
The mayor of Albuquerque announced the new cut-back in law enforcement responses as pressure mounts across America to abolish police departments, law courts, and prisons.
The decision by Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, came as Black Lives Matter advocates to defund police departments in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Mr. Floyd died in police custody after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25, with his death triggering global unrest.
The city would create a “first-of-its-kind” cabinet-level department that would respond to calls on inebriation, homelessness, addiction, and mental health, Keller announced.
"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," Keller said.
“We should have trained professionals do this, instead of folks with a gun and a badge.”
Today, we’re announcing a first of its kind concept for our city – a civilian public safety branch. https://t.co/LMVgnxgoYd— Mayor Tim Keller (@MayorKeller) June 15, 2020
Keller, a Democrat, said the new group, Albuquerque Community Safety, would refocus millions of dollars through the budget process into a public health model with a civilian-based response.
He added that the new model will allow police officers to focus their time on violent crime.
The mayor’s office said the new initiative was “not pretending that people will stop calling 911 or needing a first responder” and would not ask “police to do more without giving them more resources.”
Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier told The Washington Post that his officers were “relieved” by the new public safety model, which would make their workload more manageable, and was a “solution” for departments overwhelmed by calls and cases.
President Trump is expected to announce new police reform at the federal level on Tuesday.
Later Monday, the Albuquerque Police Department and its Emergency Response Team responded to calls about a shooting that broke out at a protest held near the city's Tiguex Park that called for the removal of a statue outside the Albuquerque Museum.
Police used chemical irritants and flashbangs to protect officers and detain individuals involved.
“We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence,” Geier said in a statement.
“If this is true will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution.”
Message from APD Chief Michael Geier: “We are receiving reports about vigilante groups possibly instigating this violence. If this is true will be holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law, including federal hate group designation and prosecution.”— Albuquerque Police Department (@ABQPOLICE) June 16, 2020
One man, who has not been identified by authorities, was shot and transported to University of New Mexico Hospital in critical but stable condition, according to Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department.
The FBI has been called in to aid in the investigation.
Protesters climbed “La Jornada,” a statue of 16th-century Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate, the colonial ruler of the region now known as New Mexico.
They tied a chain around the statue while chanting “Take it down,” and at least one person swung a pickaxe at the monument.
An armed civilian group that calls themselves the New Mexico Civil Guard claimed to have brought firearms to the protest to protect the monument.
Tensions began to rise between the two groups, and video showed a man wearing a blue shirt fell to the ground before protesters began advancing toward him, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
That’s when the man in blue pulled out a can of pepper spray from his pocket and sprayed it.
He then pulled out a gun and fired at least five times, striking another man once.
Albuquerque police officers were seen detaining men dressed in military fatigues and taking them into custody.
The New Mexico Civil Guard is not affiliated with law enforcement.
“In order to contain the public safety risk, the City will be removing the statue until the appropriate civic institutions can determine next steps,” Keller tweeted.
The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city. Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us.— Mayor Tim Keller (@MayorKeller) June 16, 2020
“The shooting tonight was a tragic, outrageous and unacceptable act of violence and it has no place in our city,” the mayor said.
"Our diverse community will not be deterred by acts meant to divide or silence us.
“Our hearts go out the victim, his family and witnesses whose lives were needlessly threatened tonight.
"This sculpture has now become an urgent matter of public safety."
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said in a statement that “although we are still learning more about the situation” she was “horrified and disgusted” by the armed group who “flaunt themselves as a ‘civil guard,’” but were there to “menace” protesters.
My statement on the “militia” and violence in Albuquerque tonight: pic.twitter.com/BZISvyau3k— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) June 16, 2020
"There is absolutely no space in New Mexico any violent would be 'militia' seeking to terrorize New Mexicans," she said.
"The instigators this evening will be rooted out, they will be investigated, and they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, has also called for the Justice Department to investigate the shooting, according to NPR.