September 18, 2015

Grant to help APD deal with those with behavioral health issues

Andy Lyman

Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the Albuquerque Police Department will receive a $250,000 federal grant aimed at helping the department in interactions with those who may have a history of behavioral health issues.

Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department Photo Credit: Andy Lyman

Andy Lyman

Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Photo Credit: Andy Lyman

The grant is designed to help the Crisis Intervention Team work with criminal justice and mental health programs. According to the city, the CIT ” works with people in the Albuquerque Community who exhibit chronic behavior patterns that may pose risks to themselves or others.”

According to the press release from Lujan Grisham’s office, the congresswoman increased funding for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. The program is overseen by the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance.

“We need more collaboration to get the appropriate services to people with mental illnesses, rather than sending them to jail,” Lujan Grisham said.

APD has faced heavy criticism for years for how officers handle situations involving those with behavioral health issues.

In 2014 the federal Department of Justice released a scathing report on APD’s history of officer involved shootings, and subsequently issued guidelines on how to move forward. Many of these interactions included those who were mentally ill, such as one that was the subject of a New Yorker investigative piece.

The DOJ investigation came just after a homeless man with a history of behavior health issues was shot and killed by APD officers. Two officers are facing second-degree murder charges for that shooting.

The money from the federal grant can be used, among other things, for specialized training or special pretrial services.