ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police are about to take a big step toward addressing concerns raised in the damning report from the Department of Justice on APD’s use of force.
Increased training to deal with the mentally ill is about to begin. It’s known as Crisis Intervention Training and the first round begins Monday. Eventually, all APD officers out in the field will receive it.
“I have to ensure that every officer on this department is accountable,” said Deputy Chief Bob Huntsman.
It’s a big task for Huntsman, the former APD commander brought back to the force to help oversee changes in light of the recent Department of Justice report that slammed the department.
“We have all got to work together to come up with solutions that will help us make the reforms and change,” Huntsman said.
One of those changes – give all APD officers who interact with the public increased Crisis Intervention Training.
“There are a couple major challenges for law enforcement officers,” Dr. Troy Rodgers said.
Dr. Rodgers, a police psychologist, will oversee that training.
“Police officers are one of the few folks who deal with folks in crisis or people that are mentally ill who don’t have to have a specialized license or degree,” Dr. Rodgers said.
In their time at the police academy, cadets get 55 hours of basic Crisis Intervention Training. Now, they’ll get an additional 40 hours, including training in de-escalation techniques.
Currently, only 27 percent of officers have already received that extra certification.
“We put the class participants in the midst of the situation in a controlled environment so we can critique it,” Dr. Rodgers said. “We can practice it without the potential for negative outcome.”
Huntsman says the clock is ticking on every call.
“What we’re looking for is to get a quicker response that as soon as a call comes out that involves someone in crisis, that whichever officer shows up is trained in that.”
APD has come under scrutiny in recent years for how officers deal with the mentally ill, most recently for the shooting of James Boyd in the Albuquerque foothills last month.
Ten CIT classes are scheduled through this year and an additional eight next year. Each one costs up to $25,000 dollars.
When it comes to the DOJ report as a whole, Huntsman says his outlook is positive. He says they’re going over all of their policies and procedures to make the necessary changes.