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Mayor, Governor, and County Highlight Two Critical Public Safety Issues for Police and Firefighters

Investments in public safety personnel with a new radio and telecom system for Albuquerque metro area public safety agencies, and health insurance coverage for PTSD treatment.

April 2, 2019

Today Mayor Tim Keller, Bernalillo County officials, and first responders joined Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to spotlight two outcomes of the legislative session of critical importance to fire fighters, police and other public safety personnel. Together, they highlighted the capital funding to support the interoperability of law enforcement communications technology in the region. Governor Lujan Grisham then signed House Bill 324 recognizing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a condition that can be caused in the course of the job for firefighters.

The $16 million in capital funding for law enforcement radio communications invests in a new radio and telecom system for Albuquerque metro area public safety agencies, including the Albuquerque Police Department, Albuquerque Fire Rescue, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, Bernalillo County Fire Department, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, APS Police, and UNM Police. This includes a much-needed upgrade to the P25 system in order to keep up with current technology.

The current communications system is severely outdated and has problematic “dead spots” in parts of the Westside, East Mountains, and in structures such as schools.

“During critical emergencies, law enforcement agencies in this region can’t communicate with each other,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “That is simply unacceptable when it comes to the public’s safety. So, the City and the County worked together to make these upgrades a top funding priority for the legislative session. Thanks to new leadership from our new Governor, we got it done. This investment improves our ability to stop dangerous criminals and respond to critical emergencies, no matter where they are.”

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “We can fully fund an interoperable system and for future purchases through the state purchasing platform, we can reduce the cost of every interoperable radio by half. I can tell you that you have to have a mayor and chief administrative officer who are willing to do that…and everybody got on the same page including the county. So for me, that’s the kind of state leadership that really makes a difference, because to the men and women and their families who dedicate their lives to being first responders this is not a partisan issue. This is a public safety issue - it’s about getting every legislator, every policy maker, and all elected leaders to the table to solve problems. This communication effort is a really proud moment for me to also recognize that Mayor Keller is willing to problem solve and figure out meaningful relationships with the state, and so are the commissioners and the Bernalillo County manager.”

House bill 324 recognizes PTSD as an occupational condition for firefighters and requires health insurance coverage for PTSD treatment.

“From fighting fires to saving individuals from arroyos and performing search and rescue efforts, firefighters across the state have taken on the ultimate responsibility of protecting our homes and our families. PTSD is a real consequence of that work, and we should show our firefighters the respect they deserve. With this new legislation, firefighters with PTSD can finally receive the medical care they need,” Mayor Keller said.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dow said, “This year’s legislative session provided essential apparatus and equipment to many New Mexico fires departments and supported legislation that’s going to have a positive impact on firefighters and their families…Each community has significant investment in their firefighters and we should do all that we can to take care of them before they turn to substance abuse or to suicide. PTSD is very real condition in the fire service and I am grateful that our Governor and our legislature recognize this.”