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Mayor, Community Members, First Responders Mark Second Anniversary of Downtown Public Safety ECHO

Over 2,700 attendees through 70+ sessions on community policing and public safety.

April 20, 2021

Mayor Tim Keller, the Albuquerque Police Department, and leaders from downtown business and educational institutions marked a successful two years of Downtown Public Safety Echo in a virtual event today. The project, which is built on the University of New Mexico’s ECHO model and brings businesses, community groups, and residents together for weekly virtual sessions to build resilience around public safety issues in the downtown area.

Mayor Tim Keller said, “This was a first-of-its-kind test of a model that was bringing healthcare to the farthest corners of our state but had never been applied in a public safety setting. We saw the potential for an innovative and empowering way to address our challenges, and now we’re building real resilience around the challenges we face downtown.”

Dr. Sanjeev Arora, who created the ECHO Project at UNM, said, “Unless we had knowledge at the right place at the right time then we could not get the right care at the right place at the right time. The way this became useful in policing is that the principals are the same. If you bring people together in a community of practice and learn to solve real problems – dumpster fires or problems of that nature—and get the feedback from the community, from the police, from not-for-profit organizations, from homelessness advocates, then you can actually create respect among learners and actually allow for new knowledge to be created, to create effective intervention.”

Downtown Public Safety Echo has held 76 sessions featuring presentations, case studies, and conversations around public safety issues including mental health, drug intervention and prevention, public safety, resources for the unhoused, sex trafficking, road rage, bullying, abandoned property disposal, and more. More than 2,700 people have attended the sessions. The next of the sessions is coming up this Thursday, and will feature new APD Chief Harold Medina.

Valery Simpson, of Mesa Detection Agency, a security services firm serving the downtown area, said, “ECHO has helped me think differently about security and in turn has helped me educate my clients and associates on how they contribute to their safety and the safety of their customers, tenants and their staff. I tell my clients that Albuquerque is growing and changing and we need to grow and change with it.”

APD Officer Conor Coleman said, “The biggest impacts that ECHO has had on me professionally is that often times as a law enforcement officer we are tasked with dealing with certain societal problems that really don’t have their fundamental nexus in criminal intent or criminal behavior. That is where the ECHO program comes in. Now I have developed a Rolodex of resources, service providers, partners in the downtown area outside of the downtown area that can come up with solutions for when a criminal justice law-enforcement intervention isn’t what’s called for. When I encounter other officers who find themselves in a similar situation, I can pass that information on.”

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