Proposal would make Denver co-responder program model for country

DENVER (KDVR) — A new proposal would take Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response Program, commonly referred to as the STAR Program, and make it a model for the rest of the country.

STAR started in June of 2020. The group operates a fleet of vans that goes out to calls with Denver Health paramedics and mental health clinicians with the Mental Health Center of Denver for low-level 911 calls like trespassing, drug overdoses, mental health crises and more. They recently received funding to expand earlier this year.Study: Denver’s STAR program reduced crime, costs

Denver city council approved additional funding in February to help the program scale up its operation across every precinct. The funding was supplemented by the Caring for Denver Foundation to the tune of $1.4 million.

new study by Stanford University researchers showed a 34% drop in low-level crimes reported in precincts STAR was operating from June 2020 to December of that year, compared to precincts where the program didn’t have a presence. It also showed a reduction in cost, compared to the current model of traditional arrests and the criminal justice system.Live Video Alerts: Get notifications in your inbox

Senator Michael Bennet introduced the Supporting Mental Assistance Responder Teams (SMART) Community Policing Act earlier this year. It draws on the successes of Denver’s STAR Program, and similar programs in Grand Junction and Summit County that have seen success.

Bennet joined Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen and CEO of Denver Health Robin Wittenstein and members of the STAR Program Friday for a news conference.