Dispatching Mental Health Teams Instead Of Police Is Successful
After dispatching mental health teams, instead of police officers, to certain 911 emergency calls, the city of Denver is proclaiming their pilot program a huge success—and expanding it significantly. Since June 2020, the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) has deployed medical and behavioral health clinicians to respond to over 2,200 low risk calls reporting trespassing, intoxication, or mental health crises involving poverty, homelessness or addiction. In all that time, STAR teams have never called for police back-up due to a safety issue, according to their January report. In January, the City Council unanimously allocated a $1.4 million contract for the STAR program’s expansion, paying for five additional white vans and hiring 7 clinicians, 4 paramedics, and two emergency medical technicians.