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Valley Women’s Voices: About deploying mental health workers

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As I read the news about Albuquerque’s experiment with sending mental health workers to deal with mentally ill people instead of sending armed police, I’m reminded of the “back the blue” campaign. 

The Albuquerque article highlights a young woman, known to be mentally ill, who was shot 21 times when her worried family called police for help. She walked out the front door and that was it. Events like that prompted Albuquerque to try something new. Seems to be working. Take a look at

Maybe the “blue” campaign is a reaction to any tinkering with use-of-force policies. Maybe it’s protecting friends or relatives in the police force, keeping them safe. Maybe it’s anxiety about protecting police budgets, probably thin as they are, with worries about hours, equipment, vehicles.     

No way to know. I try not to imagine head-shaking and laughter around a kitchen table: “Just think what a mental health person would have done with old Joe, holed up in his cabin, taking potshots! Ha ha!”   

I’m guessing there are many families with troubled relatives who would welcome a competent mental health person’s help with the family’s burden. And, too, there are families with young officers in the police force who they worry about every darned day.  

I just wish people would use their energy to try to understand a situation from many sides before launching campaigns, yard signs and all.


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