Denver program that replaces police with mental health pros seeks advisory board members — and more funding

By: - June 23, 2021 12:20 pm

A park ranger writes a ticket for a tent set up in front of Denver’s City and County Building on Oct. 15, 2020, while a “Race and Homelessness Vigil” organized by the advocacy organization Denver Homeless Out Loud takes place nearby. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response Program — which redirects some crisis 911 calls to mental health professionals instead of law enforcement — is looking for volunteers to serve on their advisory committee to help track and evaluate the program’s outcomes.

The STAR Program deploys emergency response teams that include emergency medical technicians and behavioral health clinicians to engage individuals experiencing crises related to mental health issues, poverty, homelessness and substance abuse, according the its website.

The program is also tentatively receiving $1 million in additional funds to help expand the program citywide. The proposal was approved by Denver City Council’s Finance & Governance Committee on Tuesday and now moves to the full council for approval. If approved, the program’s total funding would be $3.8 million, according to Denverite.

The expansion will allow the program, which is housed within the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, to widen its service area to the whole city, purchase new vans, and operate seven days a week.

The community advisory board will include 15 Denver residents from diverse backgrounds who will meet monthly to provide input and feedback regarding how the program is functioning. The deadline for application submissions is 5 p.m., July 12. An application is posted on the city’s website

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Moe Clark
Moe Clark

Moe Clark is a freelance journalist and former Colorado Newsline reporter who covered criminal justice, housing, homelessness and other social issues.