TRANSFORM911Implementation Case Studies


Denver: Support Team Assisted Response (STAR)


  • City: Denver, Colorado
  • Population Size: 727,211
  • Jurisdiction Size (Sq Miles): 154.9 sq miles


  • 0- STAR
  • 1- Co-Responder Team

CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) Requirements

  • All officers are CIT trained as part of the academy training. Looking at a second-tier class for people who want to learn now.

Model Components

  • Area of Jurisdiction
    • Co-Responder teams are city-wide, including Denver Police Department, Denver Sheriff’s, Denver Fire, Regional Transportation District (RTD), and Auraria Campus Police
    • STAR pilot is in Downtown districts
  • Staffing Structure
    • Teams of 1 licensed LSW practitioner and 1 paramedic
    • Co-Responder team of 36 people
    • STAR is a partnership with paramedics who are volunteering
    • 1 van M-F 10AM -6PM
    • 4 case managers are associated with the team. Can tag in a case manager, so they can lower barriers to their treatment. They have more time to work with the person and can do follow-up for a few days.
  • Staff Training/Qualifications
    • A paramedic might be overkill, an EMT or EMT B might be enough
    • Need a licensed person to be able to put people on holds and call an ambulance without having to call police in that situation.
    • All clinical staff are LCSW/LPC and may also have LAC.
  • Dispatch Structure
    • 911 center uses the CAHOOTS decision tree
    • Training on lingo
    • Direct line of communication
    • Co-responders are 911
    • STAR has a separate phone number if people want to call them specifically
    • They are talking about having a clinical presence at 911, right now it is just them understanding what STAR does

Operating Structure

  • Operations
    • STAR Is a pilot program that began in June 2020
    • Responses to 911 calls that have to do with substance abuse, mental health crises or people who just need help connecting to services
    • Most calls can be dealt with on site, occasionally provide MH transportation to hospital
    • Would like to have connection points to all the communities by having representation from each area to make it a more community-based initiative.
    • Co-responders are part of the culture of policing and dealing with MH.
    • STAR will pick up needles, but needle exchange mostly does that. They go on calls for people who missed methadone treatment. Pretty harm-reduction focused philosophy.
    • Denver has an elaborate crisis center, so they can bring people there who do not need to be hospitalized (24/7)
    • Solution center: opening in 3 months. 3 floors for different lengths of stay. 16 beds first floor (24 hours), 32-second floor (7 days), 50 3rd floor (45 days)
  • Funding Mechanisms
    • 68% goes towards Medicaid for co-responder, might be a little higher for STAR. City picks up the cost for the rest
    • Caring for Denver passed in November (sales tax for mental health initiatives/planning) put police-specific behavioral health in budget.
  • MOUs/Contracting
    • MOU with PD
    • Liability is included in contract with Denver
  • Management Structure
    • Co-Responder, STAR, Victim response are all civilian staffed
    • Non-Profit employees from the crisis service center
    • Sometimes attend police role calls, but other than that PD has no oversight
  • Supplies/Equipment
    • Currently have 1 van
    • Wear bulletproof vests under clothes

Data Systems & Collection

  • Data Collection:
    • MHCD collects data
    • Police collect data
  • Highlighted Statistics/Outcomes:
    • 150 calls for the first month. (Started in June 2020)

Key Takeaways

  • Co-Responder team and STAR team are both beneficial and work well together.

Help us Transform911.

The Health Lab strives to improve public health, its impacts, and how it is discussed. If you identify an area of our work that you believe misses a critical perspective or employs language that needs improvement, please contact us at We welcome your feedback.