AURORA, Colo. — In January, the City of Aurora added six mental health clinicians and two care coordinators to its crisis programs thanks to a partnership with UCHealth.
Through the team, a crisis intervention-trained police officer and a mental health clinician are dispatched to someone in crisis who may be a danger to themselves or others.
Aurora to partner with UCHealth on co-responder program
Tim Wagner heads the Targeted Violence Prevention Program, which falls under the Crisis Response Team.
“It’s identified steps that any mass attacker or targeted attacker takes,” said Wagner. “Providing them with resources, connections, whatever they need in life so they don't head down the path of another tragedy like the Aurora theater shooting doesn't happen.”
Wagner says he has a recent success story where he was able to intervene on a possible mass casualty event.
"There is an individual who had some concerning behaviors, had gone through and planned something. And we were able to get connected to that individual,” said Wagner. “We were able to provide support to that individual, his family. And he's doing great.”
Wagner says the Targeted Violence Prevention Program received 92 referrals in 2022, and roughly 20 were highly concerning tips. All of those tips received attention thanks to the Crisis Response Team.
"For me, that success is they were connected given help,” said Wagner.
Wagner says the January additions have had a positive impact.
"It takes a lot of stress off police officers and the department as a whole,” he said.
Jennifer Fierberg is one of the new hires. She works as a mental health clinician and clinical supervisor for the Aurora Mobile Response Team, which sends unarmed staff to non-life threatening situations.
"Wherever they're at, we're able to meet them in the middle of their crisis, be able to provide resources, de-escalation, and provide them with empathetic support they need right there on scene,” she said.
City officials say they have one position left to fill on the Crisis Response Team.