Social Workers Instead of Police? Denver's 911 Experiment Is a Promising Start

Four years after pairing social workers with police officers on certain nonemergency calls, Denver's STAR program began dispatching a mental-health clinician and paramedic as sole first responders when health and social services are needed rather than arrests, jail, and the risk of police violence. The program in its first six months, though limited by geography and hours, handled 748 calls without any police involvement. Police, in fact, are relaying many of the calls that STAR takes. STAR teaches other large cities useful lessons, but it's only as good as the local mental-health infrastructure.

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