Denver is expanding a program that has mental health providers accompany cops

The Denver and the Mental Health Center of Denver program has co-responders accompany police on calls that are likely to be mental health-related.

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“Co-responders” are mental health professionals who go on calls with police officers when it seems like the person in question might have untreated mental health problems. The idea is to get people treatment instead of putting them in jail for what is ultimately a medical issue.

Denver and the Mental Health Center of Denver started a pilot program in April to have three co-responders accompany police on calls that were likely to be mental health-related. By July, they had responded to 427 calls involving someone experiencing an mental or behavioral health crisis and diverted 408 people to treatment instead of jail.

Now that program is expanding to six co-responders.

The program is part of Denver’s Crisis Intervention and Response Unit and represents a partnership between Denver Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health Strategies, the Denver Police Department and the Mental Health Center of Denver.