The City of Las Cruces’ Project L.I.G.H.T. Program is scheduled to begin operations March 6, 2023.
The Las Cruces City Council was informed of the start date during an introduction of members of the City’s Mental Health Crisis Response Program, known as the Project L.I.G.H.T., at its Monday, Feb. 13, 2023 work session in Council Chambers at City Hall, 700 N. Main St. Also, the Council was updated on recent actions and necessary steps taken for Project L.I.G.H.T. to begin integrating response to 911 mental health emergencies in Las Cruces.
The mission of Project L.I.G.H.T. is to lessen the incidence of grief, harm, and trauma by providing a holistic co-response for those experiencing crisis within the 911 system so that they can receive appropriate trauma-informed care in their time of need. Project L.I.G.H.T. will consist of a pair of two-person teams: a firefighter paramedic and a social worker. The L.I.G.H.T. teams will provide in-field de-escalation, holistic assessment, trauma-informed interventions, transportation to definitive care treatment facilities when appropriate, mediation and advocacy, and on-scene medical assessment, care, and clearance as appropriate.
During the City’s 2022 fiscal year, the Las Cruces Fire Department (LCFD) was directed and funded by City Council to add mental crisis intervention services to the MIH Program, within the City’s Community Risk Reduction line of business. With support from the City Manager’s Office and City’s Human Resources Department, LCFD has been able to create job descriptions, advertise, and hire for Project L.I.G.H.T. positions.
LCFD also has completed the re-assignment of firefighter paramedics to Project L.I.G.H.T. Project L.I.G.H.T. teams will be in service from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Each team will work three 12-hour days, plus four hours of administration time each week.
In 2022, the Las Cruces Police and Fire departments were dispatched to a combined 2,578 calls for behavioral health responses, custody incidents, suicide attempts, welfare checks, and overdoses. Fire Department personnel identified an additional 280 calls that were attributed to mental and behavioral health issues after arriving at a scene.
Also, at Monday’s work session, City Council received a presentation on Pedestrian Safety, which introduced the Safe System Approach and the key principles of safe roadway design. Additionally, the presentation included some local applications of safe design and highlighted specific short, mid, and long-term countermeasures that can improve pedestrian safety.
Pedestrian safety is a growing concern in Las Cruces. New Mexico’s rate of pedestrian fatalities is the highest in the U.S., and the city’s pedestrian fatalities rate has been higher than the U.S. average.
Roadway safety has always been an important goal in the planning, design, and operation of the city’s transportation system.