Health care workers replaced Denver cops in handling hundreds of mental health and substance abuse cases — and officials say it saved lives

Denver's STAR program (Support Team Assisted Response) replaced police officers with health professionals on 748 calls for help. In incidents involving mental health, homelessness, and substance abuse, police backup was never needed, no one was arrested, and minor crises did not risk escalating into violence because of police presence. The six-month pilot project will expand to more parts of the city and more hours of the week, with an infusion of city money to supplement the private funding that got the program started.

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