If you aren’t aware of this, I am on the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee (MHRAC)that is a standing requirement of the Department of Justice settlement agreement with the City of Albuquerque (CASA).
At our July MHRAC meeting, an impromptu discussion of a new SOP (Standing Operation Procedure) occurred, and while the specific SOP wasn’t cited due to a lack of committee p, there was lively critique and criticism of the language in SOP 1-39. SOP 1-39 is a narrative of Body Worn Cameras or “lapel cams” that APD officers wear in the field. If you watched the extreme example of the James Boyd incident in Albuquerque, you have a good idea of what the lapel cams can capture in the field.
If you have taken time to get to know me, you knowI have no problem being direct, I read CASA, and I read
1-39, and I see an almost verbatim cut and paste from CASA.
My interpretation: 1-39 fulfills a DOJ mandate in the settlement
agreement, and while the language might seem reflexively “harsh” to
peers, I feel that it’s necessary to fulfill these DOJ elements and move
Reading 1-39, while to some peers this is “insulting”, to me it’s an
added level of security, safety, and accountability that will allow the
community and the DOJ to see and recognize that what we’re doing is
actually working and making a difference.
Some peers might not want that lapel cam running just because CASA and
now 1-39 requires the lapel cam to be active if identified of having a
known diagnosis. Some peers might feel we are being unfairly targeted.
Well, guess what? The whole reason the DOJ is here in Albuquerque is
because peers have been unfairly targeted in a literal manner (slight
Personally, I’m growing weary of “4th” considerations being the first
guiding factor in creating SOPs and developing community policing that
makes sense. If we focus immediately on civil rights, if we view every
SOP or document through the myopic lens of “make sure we don’t hurt
anybody’s feelings”, then we risk overlooking the good that some of
these CASA elements can provide both peers and police.
I’ve been watching the MHRAC membership, and I’m lasering in on
individuals who look at what we’re doing in practical, useful terms and
not “let’s define every possible contingency first” bureaucratic
priority. So, I hope you like to be lasered. I’ve been very impressed
and very thankful for your contribution.
My priority is “massaging” the language while preserving the intent and
purpose of the CASA/1-39 narrative. I feel you have a similar sentiment.
The point of all of what MHRAC is doing and the reworked CIT training
(and other trainings) is to better prepare officers to positively and
productively engage peers in crisis. Sometimes, I think we lose sight of
that in a rush to hit periodic reviews and to accommodate civil rights
debate. What we have to remember is that all this while, officers are in
the field engaging peers in crisis, and personally I want to make sure
they have every last resource, tips, advice, and guidance I can give them.
Peers are in crisis RIGHT NOW. Police officers are in the field RIGHT
NOW. This should be the first guiding factor as we move forward.
I know composing an email of this sort makes it a permanent,
easily/accidentally distributed document, but you shouldn’t be concerned
because I’ll be posting this same article (in a different style and
format) to my Steve’s Thoughtcrimes blog tomorrow.
Thanks for taking the time on MHRAC to help make the lives of peers better.