Attorney General Raúl Torrez Hosts Trauma, Treatment and Public Safety Summit in His Second Series of Public Safety Convenings

Press Release from The New Mexico Office of Attorney General

November 3, 2023  

Attorney General Raúl Torrez Hosts Trauma, Treatment and Public Safety Summit in His Second Series of Public Safety Convenings Summit Discussed the Current State of Mental and Behavioral Health and Identified Needed Improvements to Benefit Public Safety in New Mexico.

Albuquerque, NM – Today, Attorney General Raúl Torrez hosted his second summit this year – this time focusing on behavioral health, rehabilitation, and how these aspects of healthcare impact public safety. The event took place at Bernalillo County @ Alvarado Square and consisted of three panels with subject matter experts and specialists from across New Mexico. 

“We need to make a generational commitment to addressing the root causes of crime if we hope to solve the generational challenge of building a safer community,” said AG Torrez. “As a career prosecutor, I know that most of the violent crime we see on our streets today has its roots in child abuse and neglect, intergenerational trauma and substance abuse, and I believe that the development of a well-resourced and coordinated strategy to address these issues is the most effective form of crime prevention over the long term.”

“We need to not make it hard for people to get services. In this state, it seems like behavioral health and physical health are siloed,” said Dominic Cappello Co-Founder of NMSU’s Anna Age Eight. “There are ten basic services that our communities need to thrive and giving them those services in one space is key, that way we don’t burden those who need services the most.” 

“Behavioral healthcare is very regulated, more so than physical healthcare,” said Dr. Caroline Bonham, UNM Health Sciences Center’s Community Behavioral Health Policy Associate Professor. “We all need some sort of behavioral health and to have such a high need for it means that it shouldn’t be regulated so much. A little regulation is good, a lot is bad for access to treatment. Having important conversations like these, between agencies and institutes is the first step to breaking down these siloes.”  

During the summit experts discussed their experiences within their fields relating to behavioral health, ACEs, recovery and public safety. Panelists also discussed their insights into how to make an impactful change to the behavioral health and public safety for New Mexico, including the intersection of mental health and law enforcement, substance abuse and public safety, the role of behavioral health in re-entry programs, trauma-informed approaches to public safety and more. 

Participants included: 

Panel 1: Preventing Cradle to Jail – Addressing the Impacts of Intergenerational Trauma

  • UNM Office for Community Health Director of Rural Engagement, Matt Probst 
  • Anna Age Eight Institute Co-Founder, Dominic Cappello
  • ADOBE (Averting Disparities in Outcomes by Building Engagement), Dr. Chloe Stoffel
  • UNM Executive Director of Behavioral Health Clinical Services,  Dr. Larissa Lindsey

Panel 2: Pathways to Healing – Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Access to Mental Health, Behavioral Health, and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

  • UNM Health Sciences Center’s Community Behavioral Health Policy Associate Professor, Dr. Caroline Bonham
  • New Mexico Behavioral Health Providers Association President, Dr. David Ley
  • New Mexico Highlands University, Social Work Department, Professor, Dr. Melissa Riley

Panel 3: Finding Common Ground – Coherent Strategies for Addressing Trauma, Treatment & Public Safety in New Mexico

  • Behavioral Health Services Division Director, Nick Boukas
  • Grant County Detention Center Warden, Joe Andazola
  • Lincoln County Detention Center RISE Program, Willymae Smith
  • Carlsbad Lifehouse Executive Director, Philip Huston