The Flagstaff City Council is funding an “alternate response model” to help police officers take some of the work load off their shoulders. Mayor Paul Deasy said at Monday’s special meeting that “our police are terribly overworked” and help is needed so they are turning to this model for help, instead of cutting the department’s budget. Denver, Colorado has a model in place, and has been for nearly a year, called the Support Team Assisted Response program or STAR. Right now one team, which is made up of a mental health clinician and a paramedic, handles calls Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and they get about six incidents a day in high-demand neighborhoods. Denver’s program connects people with services like shelters, food aid, counseling and medication. It also cuts down on interactions between officers and civilians. Chad Hoffman, a reporter at KOA NewsRadio in Denver, says stats on the first six months of the program have been released and it’s impressive. He says the team has “responded to nearly 750 incidents, none have required police or led to arrests or jail time.” Hoffman says the program has received the endorsement of Denver Police chief Paul Pazen. Flagstaff’s program will cost $2.3-million dollars a year over three years and money to help fund the program could come from a source like the new marijuana sales tax.
To hear the complete interview with Dave and Chad, click here: