City Council Committee Approves Contract for City-Wide STAR Expansion | Local news
The Denver City Council Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee on Wednesday approved by consent a nearly $ 1.4 million contract with the Denver Mental Health Center to expand to citywide its civilian-led response program for low-intensity non-violent situations.
The contract negotiated by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment is worth $ 1,391,579 and runs until 2022.
The Support Team Assisted Intervention Program pairs mental health clinicians with paramedics to respond to people with mental health issues, poverty, homelessness and substance use crises as an alternative to the police.
Teams have the ability to connect people to emergency services if they wish, such as shelters and treatment for the homeless.
STAR relied on 911 dispatchers to screen the calls and determine the appropriate response. By expanding STAR’s reach in Denver, teams will have about 10,000 meetings per year, according to the contract.
Data presented to the city council’s budget and policy committee in late August showed that none of the more than 1,600 calls that STAR teams have responded to so far have led to arrests.
Data from the pilot phase showed responses heavily concentrated around downtown Denver and East Colfax Avenue, South Federal Boulevard and Montbello. Also as part of the expansion, teams operate up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
A 15-member advisory committee for STAR is tasked with monitoring program data and community outreach to raise awareness and review feedback on the matter.
Data collection was based solely on 911 calls during STAR’s pilot phase, said Jeff Holliday, who manages the Office of Behavioral Health Strategies at the Department of Public Health and the Environment, during the presentation of August.
He added that one of the intentions of STAR’s expansion is to consider other ways to access the program because of the stigma associated with calling 911.