A program that replaces police officers with health care workers on mental health and substance abuse calls in Denver, Colorado, is showing signs of success, according to a six-month progress report. Despite responding to hundreds of calls, the workers made no arrests, the report said — and the city’s police chief told CBS News on Friday that he believes the program “saves lives.”
Under the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program, health care workers are dispatched in lieu of police when responding to incidents involving issues with mental health, poverty, homelessness or substance abuse. STAR providers only respond to incidents in which there is no evidence of criminal activity, disturbance, weapons, threats, violence, injuries or “serious” medical needs.
During the first six months of the program, from June 1 to November 30, health professionals responded to 748 calls, including trespassing, welfare checks, narcotic