ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police have worked for years to overcome criticisms that have left black marks on the department.
This upcoming weekend, 10 employees from APD will have the honor to share their successes and what it took to achieve them with their peers from around the world.
In July, APD was asked to teach other police departments about some of its best practices at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference. The conference is being held in Philadelphia.
“It’s one of the largest policing professional organizations,” Officer Tanner Tixier said.
The audience will include officers and police chiefs from around the world. Officer Tixier said the last time the department presented at an IACP conference was back in 2003.
Since that time, APD has undergone some major challenges, and this weekend they’ll give presentations on how they’ve overcome many of them.
“Basically present on four topics that IACP and their executive committee believes APD is on the forefront of our strategies for these particular topics,” Tixier said.
Those topics include how the department deals with the mentally ill, the CIT ECHO Program, social media use and recruiting tactics.
“What this does, is it shows we have not only acknowledged that there was an issue and not only have we made changes but we made changes that were so drastic and so strategic that now, they’re looked at as ‘best practices,'” Officer Tixier said.
Two of the presentations relate to APD’s CIT unit.
“As everyone knows, that was one of the major topics of our settlement agreement with the Department of Justice,” Officer Tixier said. “How we dealt with and our use-of-force against people with mental illness.”
APD points to recent numbers. Spokesperson, Celina Espinoza said “in the first six months of 2017 we responded to nearly 3,500 behavioral health-related calls. She said of those calls, 0.5 percent or 18 incidents resulted in “some level of use of force.”
“Our numbers on use-of-force are down,” Officer Tixier said. “You’ll see that our interactions, based on that tracking that we’ll be presenting, we’re having more positive outcomes with people who live with mental illness.”
Tixier said APD also credits its collaborative efforts with mental health professionals within the community, along with a growing CIT unit.
“After the settlement agreement, we’ve really expanded our program,” Detective Matthew Tinney said. “We went from being led by a sergeant, to now a director who is a psychiatrist. We are the only police department in the nation who has a psychiatrist that works for them.”
Detective Tinney stressed the importance of using medicine with law enforcement “in a combined effort to reduce tragedy” within the community.
“The information that Dr. Winograd is gathering (for the conference) actually shows that we have had a reduce in ‘uses-of-force’ when it comes to interactions between law enforcement and people in a behavioral health crisis. One of the biggest is the discharge of a firearm, that has gone down tremendously,” Tinney said.
Officer Tixier said along with their successes, they also plan to go over tactics and strategies that didn’t work so well for the department.
“You have to be able to eat your humble pie and admit when things didn’t work out, so that hopefully another agency doesn’t make the same mistakes,” Officer Tixier said. “But I do think that the selection for APD to present on four separate topics speaks largely to the leadership of Chief Eden and the executive staff who have delivered to this department.”