A Denver program that sends health workers instead of police to respond to calls involving substance use and mental health issues is showing signs of success, CBS News reports.
During the first six months of the program, health workers responded to 748 calls. None of the cases required assistance from police, and no one was arrested. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told CBS News he believes the program saves lives.
Under the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program, health workers only respond to incidents in which there is no evidence of criminal activity, disturbance, weapons, threats, violence, injuries or serious medical needs.
“That’s 748 times fewer that the police department was called, meaning we can free up law enforcement to do what law enforcement is supposed to do, and really what law enforcement is good at, and that is addressing crime issues, violent crime, property crime and traffic safety,” Pazen said. “You have a safer community and you have better outcomes for people in crisis.”