Providing better training and mental health services is all the more difficult because New Mexico is a poor state with underfunded behavioral health programs. Tension between police and parts of the community has been building for years. “They treat you like you’re out looking to cause trouble every time they talk to you,” said Michael Gonzagowski. Since 2010, Albuquerque police have shot 37 people, 23 of them fatally. The shootings have prompted the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation into police conduct. Mayor Richard Berry has announced a raft of proposed “sweeping changes,” including crisis intervention training for all field service bureau officers. As of now, about a quarter of them receive such training.
A rash of officer-involved shootings has unleashed anger, resentment and self-examination in Albuquerque as residents, City Hall and the police question whether the city needs to overhaul its police department and train officers better, particularly in how to react to people with mental illness,reports the Los Angeles Times.