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Albuquerque will use social workers to respond to certain 911 calls instead of police

Albuquerque, N.M., has unveiled plans to use social workers to respond to certain 911 calls rather than police, as proposals to reform law enforcement and end police brutality draw national attention in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

Democratic Mayor Tim Keller announced on Monday that Albuquerque is creating a "first-of-its-kind" civilian public safety department that would use unarmed social workers, housing and homelessness specialists, and violence prevention coordinators to respond to certain 911 calls over police.

"We've placed more and more issues on the plates of officers who are not trained — despite their best efforts and despite some training — they're not totally trained to be a social worker, or to be an addiction counselor, or to deal with things around child abuse when they're just answering a call," Keller said in his announcement. “We should have trained professionals do this, instead of folks with a gun and a badge.”

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The new group, called Albuquerque Community Safety, will respond to 911 calls about homelessness, intoxication, drug use, addictions and mental health. 

Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier said, according to The Washington Post, that his officers are “relieved” by the creation of the new department, which would help lighten officers' workload, and called it a "solution" to police departments that are overwhelmed with calls and cases.

The change comes in response to calls to "defund the police" after Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody. 

Multiple cities across the country as well as the federal government are working to update policies and respond to the nationwide protests calling for change to law enforcement practices. Many have suggested the use of social workers and specialized medics as first responders to help prevent police calls from escalating and turning violent, and several other U.S. cities have implemented such changes.

On Monday, the New York Police Department announced that it was ending the use of certain plain-clothes officers.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE is also planning to announce an executive order on police reform on Tuesday.