Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and his staff met with addiction treatment providers on July 25 at the Main Public Library to discuss violent crime. Jennifer Weiss-Burke, Director of Healing Addiction in Our Community and Serenity Mesa Recovery Center and Jeffrey Holland, LCSW and Executive Director of the Endorphin Power Company presented statements. This was the third listening session held with community members this summer.
United States Attorney Uballez opened the session by explaining that the Attorney General directed United States Attorney’s Offices to focus on addressing violent crime through intervention and outreach efforts. Participants described how young people have unrestricted access to guns. Providers described how every one of their clients had been victims of or impacted by violence. Jeffrey Holland stated, “[Clients] have preexisting traumatic incidents that have happened and then later struggle with addiction.” Participants agreed that Albuquerque Community Services (ACS) needed more support and resources so that they could expand their scope of work.
Speaking to the challenges facing local organizations that work with clients that struggle with addiction, Jennifer Weiss-Burke identified the prevalence of sex trafficking victimization among their clients. The majority of the clients that treatment providers encounter are struggling with Fentanyl use. Currently, there is no detox center for adolescents, so they often have to detox in the hospital. Jeffrey Holland said he’d like the Metropolitan Detention Center to allow faith-based programs such as 12-step programs allowed in jail again. He also mentioned that “once offenders are in jail they turn off Medicaid. When they are released, they do not have Medicaid and have to wait to get back on it to receive Suboxone or other medications they need immediately.” This causes issues for the clients that they serve.
When asked what issues the treatment providers see that cause the divide between law enforcement and the community, both Serenity Mesa Recovery Center and Endorphin Power Company agreed that their clients would feel more comfortable if officers came in and talked with them without weapons or bulletproof vests, and civilian clothing would be ideal. Jennifer Weiss-Burke requested that the Albuquerque Police Department send officers to come and have an open dialogue with her clients.
USA Uballez convened this listening session as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program. USA Uballez previously met with representatives from organizations that serve Albuquerque’s International District and community providers who serve the unhoused population. These sessions were an opportunity for the USA and his staff to recognize the vital role that these leaders, providers and advocates play in our community.
PSN is an evidence-based program proven effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. In New Mexico, the United States Attorney’s Office pursues a community violence intervention approach. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally-based intervention, prevention, and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
PSN programs are led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in collaboration with local public safety agencies and community organizations. The programs’ emphasis on community engagement, prevention and intervention measures, focused and strategic enforcement, and measurement and accountability has helped achieve overall reductions in violent crime, including gun homicides, in neighborhoods where PSN strategies have been implemented.
Source : Justice