One of the greatest challenges facing county law enforcement and detention is how to respond to people with mental health disorders who are in crisis.
House Joint Memorial 17 addressed this challenge and charged the Interagency New Mexico Behavioral Health Purchasing Collaborative with convening stakeholders to develop humane and effective strategies to serve people with mental health disorders in order to reduce the number of people with mental health disorders who are in detention or require law enforcement intervention.
HJM 17 was an NMAC priority during the 2011 legislative session and because of this NMAC took a leadership role on the task force. Loss Prevention Attorney, Grace Philips, co-chaired the task force and Loss Prevention Coordinator, Jennifer Rabinowitz provided staff support. The full task force represented a broad range of disciplines and perspectives as well as urban, rural and frontier communities. The task force (which met five times) was supported by a steering committee that met weekly from May through October. The final report is the result of their work. Additional information, including meeting minutes, research and presentations can be reviewed on the task force website: https://sites.google.com/a/nmcounties.org/hjm17/home
The recommendations contained in the final report set forth a road map to reduce the number of people with mental health diagnosis who are in county detention facilities or who require law enforcement intervention. Implementing the recommendations will take commitment and leadership—particularly at the local government level.
House Memorial 45 in 2011 asked the Behavioral Health Collaborative to convene a Task Force to consider three sets of issues related to civil commitment and treatment guardianship arising from House Bills 497, 499 and 559. HB 599 sought to amend a section of the mental health and developmental disabilities code (The Code) making changes to the provisions related to treatment guardians. HB 499 proposed changes to The Code related to criminal defendants who are civilly committed to secure facilities. HM497 amended a section of The Code to change the roles of the district attorney in civil commitment proceedings. Each of these bills had strong proponents and significant opponents. Both groups of advocates agreed that a Memorial replace the bills and that a Task Force convene and work to find recommendations on the issues underlying the three bills. The Task Force launched its work on August 30, 2011. The Task Force identified three priorities underlying HM 45:
- the safety of the community;
- protecting and ensuring civil liberties;
- effective treatment.