Denver is Saving Resources By Sending Social Workers to Low-Risk 911 Calls
Denver has stopped sending police to certain 911 calls and is saving resources by dispatching social workers instead.
Denver social workers are taking on low-risk calls like issues related to homelessness or a mental health crisis, as reported by NowThis.
Denver modeled its project after a similar program in Eugene, Oregon that has been sending social workers to low-risk 911 calls for over 30 years. That program, called CAHOOTS, saves Eugene an estimated $15 million annually.
Denver Social Worker, Carleigh Sailon told NowThis, "The van is a big cost savings. You know, we're not rolling an ambulance, fire and police code 10 lights and sirens to every call. And we're not, you know, overusing hospitals and ERs as opposed to more appropriate lower-level resources".
In the wake of George Floyds death and the global outcry for police reform, cities such as Minneapolis, Portland and San Francisco have begun to develop their own social worker response programs.
NowThis reported that the call to 'defund' typically means shifting some police funds to experts who are better trained for non-violent situations. In 2015, over one half of police killings of unarmed citizens followed a 911 call.
Denver launched their trial program in June with plans to make it permanent next year.
"Dealing with psychosis or substance misuse, that's my bread and butter. That's what I do all day. And I can handle that effectively and quickly, much like an officer could if he showed up on a robbery scene," Sailon said in a statement to NowThis.