Denver’s pivot from police is catching on in other Colorado cities, both blue and red.
Why it matters: Alternative police response programs that treat people in mental distress more like patients than prisoners can produce better results and save taxpayers money by efficiently targeting the city’s resources.
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State of play: Following the lead of Denver’s STAR (Support Team Assisted Response) program, Colorado Springs now plans to allocate more than $400,000 from the city’s 2022 budget to form a crisis response team that deploys mental health professionals instead of armed police to low-level 911 calls.
What’s next: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration wants to bring the STAR program to the city’s jails next year.
By the numbers: None of the 1,600+ calls the STAR team received since launching last summer have required backup from police or led to an arrest.
The big picture: In the wake of nationwide protests over police accountability, Denver’s STAR program — designed after a decades-old model in Eugene, Oregon — is gaining popularity across major U.S. cities that are looking to divert traditional law enforcement from 911 calls for mental health emergencies.
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