DOJ findings spark talks about Kendra’s Law

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) –  A day after the Department of Justice said APD needs to do a better job dealing with the mentally ill and lawmakers are already talking about making changes at the state level. A former APD officers hopes they will consider a state law that would mandate some of the mentally ill to take their medication.

In the DOJ report, federal officials said they found a significant amount of force was used against persons with mental illness and ones in crisis.

Former Albuquerque police officer, Carol Oleksak said she expected mental health to be a big part of the DOJ report. She was shot in the line of duty a decade ago by a man she later found, was suffering from a mental illness.

“Hit me on the head and knocked me out. Got on top of me grabbed my gun which is in the holster,” Oleksak said. “I was completely out or trying to get up and he shot four times, Duc Minh Pham shot four times.”

Oleksak said it was a typical call about a a man throwing a rock through someone’s window. But in a matter of seconds she nearly lost her life.

“Mentally ill you don’t know what their thoughts are,” Oleksak said.

Oleksak said officers meet up with people dealing with mental illness often and those deemed dangerous can be unpredictable.

After watching video of the James Boyd shooting, Oleksak said she thinks more training for officers would help. However, Oleksak said that’s not enough.

Oleksak said she wants more treatment options and facilities for the mentally ill so fewer will come face to face with officers.

Oleksak is pushing for Kendra’s Law in New Mexico, which could mandate treatment.

“Kendra’s law deals with people who are mentally ill and dangerous, which is the main thing that police are concerned about ,” Oleksak said.

Senator Tim Keller told KRQE News 13 he thinks the legislature should consider a version of Kendra’s Law.

Senator Michael Padilla doesn’t know if that’s the way to go just yet, but agrees more needs to be done. He said for the past few years millions of dollars have been slashed for services for the mentally ill and its time to get funding back into behavioral health care.

“We have had so many cuts to the mental health services and you can only cut so deep when you start running into issues like these,” Padilla said. “If you don’t provide those services these folks are going to continue to have run-ins with the law.”

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