Call police for a woman who is changing clothes in an alley? A new program in Denver sends mental health professionals instead.

To avoid unnecessary arrests and reduce police-public friction, Denver's STAR program (Support Team Assistance Response) sends a mental health professional and a paramedic to some mental-health-related 911 calls instead of sending police. In the first three months of the pilot program, the STAR team – covering only certain areas of the city during weekdays – handled 350 calls without needing police backup. STAR builds on a 4-year-old program pairing Denver police with mental health professionals. That program handled 2,223 calls in 2019 and is expanding.

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