The Denver Police Department has announced it is working on a plan to allow certain emergency services calls to be handled by trained civilians rather than officers of the law.
What are the details?
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told KUSA-TV roughly 10-20 percent of 911 calls in the city do not require the presence of law enforcement, and could be diverted to paired-up counselors and medics rather than police officers. So, the department is working on a program allowing trained professionals to be dispatched with the goal of better serving citizens while redirecting law enforcement resources.
When it comes to non-threatening cases such as homelessness or substance abuse, "If we have a team of dedicated individuals with those types of backgrounds, we feel like we can have a positive impact on our most vulnerable population," the chief explained to KVAL-TV.
Pazen does not yet have a timeline or a budget laid out for the program, but says he recognizes there is an immediate need so the department is "working as quick as possible" to work out the details.
Denver Police Could Soon Have Civilian Teams Responding To Some 911 Calls www.youtube.com
Denver is basing its new pilot program off a similar scheme operating in the city of Eugene, Oregon, called "Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets," or, "CAHOOTS." Launched in 1989, Cahoots has successfully served the people of Eugene for decades, prompting other communities to take a look at their pioneering model.
Pazen notes that Denver's program will not be identical to Eugene's, but city officials and community leaders have reached out to CAHOOTS leaders for help in developing their own unique plan.
The Daily Mail reported Denver Alliance for Street Health Response director Vinnie Cervantes was part of a group who recently visited Eugene to check out the CAHOOTS program. He says, "They are trying to have not as many situations where law enforcement is the response and rather a community-based response is the answer for it."