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Aurora could see a new program that diverts some 911 calls to a paramedic and clinician

New program would take a different approach to policing
Posted at 6:05 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 21:28:30-04

AURORA, Colo. -- A change in policing could be on Aurora’s horizon.

"For me it means that we can treat our community more humanely when they’re experiencing crisis, that we can talk to people that need help. They don’t need to be jailed, they don’t need to be criminalized," said Vinnie Cervantes with Denver Alliance for Street Health Response.

Aurora already responds to many non-violent 9-1-1 calls with a police officer and a clinician.

But now a new program looks to replace the officer with a paramedic.

"We started conversations with council-members in Aurora back in January of this year," said Cervantes.

Cervantes said this move does not abolish police or remove policing in general. They could still be called for back up, it just wouldn’t be by default.

"In the case of things that have happened in Denver, things that have happened in Aurora, this gives an opportunity to have a treatment focus on what someone is experiencing and then connect them to real help and real services rather than throwing them in jail where they might get those services instead," said Cervantes.

Since Denver’s similar program called “STAR” began in June, there have been more than 400 calls which haven’t had to request police assistance at all.

That statistic doesn’t go unnoticed by the City of Aurora.

"Right now we’re looking at leveraging existing resources in order to do a pilot, that’s the conversation that we’re having now and that will be up to full council in terms of how we want to fund it or if we want to pump more money into the program earlier," said Allison Hiltz, Aurora City Council at Large.

This model could be the future for many 9-1-1 calls.

"Long term, I would like to see this be a city-wide approach that it’s just part of how we do policing," said Hiltz.

Hoping to make even more people feel safe when calling for help, especially when the situation isn’t criminal to begin with.