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Albuquerque Community Safety responds to call from states away

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – When people think of Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS), the first thing that might come to mind is the homeless. “About 40% of those calls are unsheltered individuals, about 80% of those calls are taken from PD,” said Chris Blystone, behavioral health responder supervisor with ACS.

But that’s not all they respond to, sometimes their expertise is needed for a different kind of crisis. “We attended to a suicide ideation call regarding a teenager. We had a person out of state from Texas calling nine one here stating that he’s a gamer,” said Danna Gonzalez, a behavioral health responder with ACS.

In March, ACS got a call from Texas, a boy calling 911 about his friend in Albuquerque, threatening to commit suicide while they were playing video games together online. “He only had like a cell phone number because they communicated through Snapchat. And that’s all he had. So PD track through the phone number and address,” said Gonzalez.

Dispatch traced the boy’s home, and Gonzalez responded. Turns out the boy was saying that in frustration, after a fight with his mother.

When she spoke with the boy’s mom, she had learned more about the situation. “She was a single mother, can understand why she was having an argument with her son throughout the week and she didn’t communicate. That’s my job to kind of like understand her and go from there,” said Gonzalez.

This was one of the team’s easier-to-resolve calls. But when they’re confronted with a more serious situation, they put their training in crisis management and behavioral health to work, and follow through until the person in crisis is in safe hands. “I think we make an impact at probably over 90% of those situations we go out to whether it’s connecting them to a hospital, whether it’s connecting them to a resource.”

And ACS’s suicide calls aren’t new to them, they responded to 162 calls in March. “With mental health issues on the rise and the stress, the stresses of everyday life in the economy, and everything that’s taking place, we need an alternative response. We need to have the right response at the right time for the individuals that need that response,” said Blystone.

ACS has responded to 70,000 calls since its inception in 2021.

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