New program keeps public inebriates out of ER’s, jail, and off the streets
May 23, 2013
Albuquerque- A new program between the city and county allows police officers and firefighters to use more of their time fighting crime and responding to emergency situations. The Public Inebriate Intervention Program [PIIP], has been a pilot program over the past year during which more than 1,000 intoxicated individuals have been taken to the Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services center, MATS. Previously, APD and AFD had taken individuals to the emergency room or to jail; the new program decreases the cost and population within emergency rooms and the metropolitan detention center.
The partnership originated as a pilot program in April 2012 when APD Chief Ray Schultz was working an evening shift and was approached by a security officer asking him to get several intoxicated individuals off his property. Since it was a busy evening with a very high call-volume Chief Schultz asked the Prisoner Transport Unit to pick up the individuals and take them to MATS to sober up, rather than taking patrol officers off the streets to transport the individuals. This started the mutually-beneficial partnership that was finalized when UNM Hospital, MATS, APD, and AFD all signed an agreement on April 6, 2013.
"This program creates great community outcomes, saves money, and allows for more officers and firefighters to be out on the streets addressing violent or emergency situations," said Mayor Richard J. Berry. "We’re honored to be a joining Bernalillo County, MATS, and the University of New Mexico Hospital to address this citywide concern."
"The County is pleased to expand our partnerships with the Albuquerque police and fire departments. This collaboration has not only appropriately diverted individuals away from hospitals and the jail but it has allowed greater access and exposure to the treatment services provided by the Bernalillo County MATS facility," said Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins.
"This is yet another example of what is possible when we all work together for the betterment of our community. I would like to commend Bernalillo County Commission Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins, the County Commissioners, and the Mayor for their vision, their hard work and for their willingness to work together on our behalf to improve the lives of our citizens. UNM Hospital is proud to join in this effort," UNM Hospital CEO Steve McKernan said.
Now the successful program will expand from two days a week to 40 hours a week; operating during the evening hours Wednesday through Saturday.