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Community Safety Department Marks 2 Years of Service

ACS continues to be transformational for Albuquerque’s public safety system.
October 03, 2023

Today, the Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) Department celebrated two years of service to our community. ACS continues to spearhead transformative changes in public safety by dispatching First Responders who specialize in social work and similar fields, to behavioral health calls for service. As of September 1, 2023, ACS has taken a cumulative 46,482 calls for service. 28,322 of those calls have been diverted from APD to ACS.           

“Through the hard work of ACS First Responders, leadership, and staff, this growing department is successfully and safely taking thousands of 911 calls for service, allowing our police officers to focus on violent crime,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “ACS is transforming public safety into a nationally recognized system that works for everyone.”

“As we celebrate this major milestone in ACS history, we reflect on our accomplishments over the last two years, and look to the future,” said ACS Director Mariela Ruiz-Angel. “When considering the life span of other public safety departments, ACS is still just getting started. We look forward to growing our staff and our footprint over the next year, to provide a more robust response for the citizens of Albuquerque.”

ACS was announced as a new cabinet-level department in 2020 following calls for change from community members. Albuquerque police were also overwhelmed with 911 and 311 calls for service. Mayor Keller recognized the need for a more appropriate response to behavioral health crises.

A planning committee made up of community members and leaders throughout the city then began advising on everything from how ACS should operate, to what Responders should wear. ACS took its first calls for service in September 2021.

As ACS increases staffing, capacity will continue to grow. Over the last year, ACS has hired 27 new First Responders. In that time, ACS has nearly doubled the number of 911 and 311 calls for service. ACS Behavioral Health Responders are now taking more high-priority calls for service such as welfare checks, suicidal ideation, and behavioral health issues.

On August 26th, ACS launched a graveyard shift, making the department a 24/7 service. In one month, ACS Graveyard First Responders responded to 1,247 calls for service. This has saved Albuquerque police who work the graveyard shift an estimated 2,494 hours. 

As ACS continues to expand, the department has become widely recognized across the nation for its innovative approach to mental and behavioral health 911 calls for service. ACS serves as the inspiration and blueprint for other cities launching their own department, such as Seattle.

Earlier this year, leadership from the City of Seattle’s new Community Assisted Response and Engagement (CARE) Department traveled to Albuquerque to learn from ACS and City leaders about how our department was started and how it operates.

Last week, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced CARE as Seattle’s newest public safety department. He also announced plans to bolster the department with additional funding and staff.

In the coming year, ACS will expand its footprint, with the opening of a new headquarters at Kathryn and San Mateo. Construction is expected to be completed early next year.

Throughout the month of September, ACS has released videos on social media in celebration of our two-year anniversary. Each video is a message from community members and leaders, talking about the impact of ACS.

Watch the videos here:

See a PDF of the slides from the presentation at ACS 2-year anniversary press conference.