Denver police are readying a pilot program to test having civilian teams of mental health workers and medics respond to some 911 calls instead of police officers. The civilian teams would respond to calls related to the homeless, mental health and substance abuse that don't involve a weapon or threat to other community members. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told local station CBS4, "If we have a team of dedicated individuals with those types of backgrounds, we feel like we can have a positive impact on our most vulnerable population." Denver is basing its program on one already in use in Eugene, Oregon. Denver Alliance for Street Health Response Director Vinnie Cervantes, who was invited to see how it works in Eugene, told CBS that it not only strengthens the relationship between community and law enforcement but alleviates some of the workload on police.
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