Aurora may already have a program in Denver that will prevent police from making emergency calls

The city is currently investigating a pilot program similar to the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) in Denver.

August 21, 2020, 12:13 p.m.

Aurora could begin removing police from certain emergency calls and replacing them with paramedics and social workers.

On Friday, the Denver Alliance for Street Health Response announced that it has been working with members of the Aurora City Council since January to discuss how they could bring such a program to the city. It is modeled after the Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets program in Eugene, Oregon. The goal of CAHOOT is to provide people with homelessness, mental health and substance use disorders with a “more appropriate and humane” approach to crisis intervention.

DASHR’s Vinnie Cervantes said activists and a delegation of local lawmakers visited Eugene last year to see how to bring a similar program to Denver.

“The greatest thing is to have only one alternative,” said Cervantes to the police. “I think there is this general understanding that (police) are not the best to cover all of these issues.”

The agency endorsed and supported the creation of the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) pilot program in Denver, which began in June. The program, which began as national protests against racism and police brutality, continued and was held up as a means of “dismantling the police,” as some advocates and protesters have called for the prosecution to be weakened.

Aurora Police have been involved in several high profile incidents involving the use of violence. The city hired a company to conduct a comprehensive review of the department’s policies and practices.

Jim Twombly, Aurora’s city manager, said the pilot was a viable option for the city. He noted that Aurora has a co-responder program where police officers undergo mental health training and are accompanied by psychiatric doctors on certain calls.

The city council will eventually review the program during a meeting.

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