Colo. city considers replacing police with medics on nonviolent 911 calls

Advocates for the proposed program say it would be a more humane way to treat people in crisis and police could still be called for backup

By Laura French

AURORA, Colo. — A Colorado city is considering a pilot program that would replace police officers with paramedics on responses to some nonviolent 911 calls. 

Aurora City Councilmember and Public Safety Chair Allison Hiltz said the council is currently looking into leveraging existing resources to start the pilot program, according to Denver7. Hiltz said the full council will need to decide how to fund the program and that she would like to ultimately see the new response model used city-wide. 

Vinnie Cervantes, of the Denver Alliance for Street Health Response, which has been working with the city to develop the program since January, says the model is meant to treat individuals experiencing a crisis more humanely by providing alternatives to incarceration. Cervantes added that the program is not meant to eliminate police and that police can still be called to a scene for backup if needed. 

Denver launched a similar program in June called STAR. Since the start of the program, teams consisting of one medic and one clinician have responded more than 400 mental health calls where police assistance was not needed, according to Denver7.  

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