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Boulder launches alternative response pilot program for less serious calls

The CARE team will handle "911 calls that are not criminal in nature, do not present safety concerns and may be more appropriately addressed by health care and behavioral health professionals."
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Posted at 8:54 PM, Dec 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-11 23:03:50-05

BOULDER, Colo. — The City of Boulder has launched an "alternative response pilot program" that will dispatch behavioral health professionals, case managers and paramedics to less serious and non-emergency calls.

In its announcement, the city said the Community Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) program will handle "911 calls that are not criminal in nature, do not present safety concerns and may be more appropriately addressed by health care and behavioral health professionals." Boulder police will not respond with the CARE team, according to the city.

“Our goal is that every community member gets the response that best meets their needs in the moment,” said Boulder Human Services Police Manager Wendy Schwartz in a statement. “With licensed behavioral health clinicians and paramedics evaluating appropriate cases in the field, we have one more tool to helping people connect with the right services at the right time.”

The CARE program will focus on "calls involving concerns about a person's well-being," according to the city. Such incidents include concerns about a person's mental health, substance abuse and minor medical issues. The team will not respond to calls involving criminal activity, violence or major medical issues.

The city said its Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) will still respond under necessary circumstances. Under the CIRT program, clinicians respond to more serious calls that involve a behavioral health crisis and are accompanied by police.

During the first phase of the pilot program, the CARE team will be available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The city will assess its success and make improvements as needed.


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