AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The City of Aurora has been developing teams to respond to lower-level 911 calls for years, and now they’re one position away from having a full staff.
“We believe in giving people the right response at the right time because that’s what the citizens of Aurora deserve.” said the city’s Crisis Intervention Program Manager, Courtney Tassin. “For us, by having all these responses, we’re making sure people are safe.”
The city recently struck a deal with UCHealth to provide mental health clinicians for two key programs to tackle lower-level calls.
Aurora Mobile Response Team
The city’s mobile response team launched in the Fall of 2021. While it currently consists of a single unit, with one UCHealth mental health clinician and one EMT from Falck Rocky Mountain Inc., the city is conducting interviews to hire a second clinician full-time to double their force.
In 2022, AMRT responded to 500 low-level 911 calls. The team focuses on behavioral health issues that don’t rise to imminent danger, and have yet to call for police backup.
“The main call types that we get are suicidal threats, and that’s just how they’re deemed in the CAT system the dispatching system, welfare checks and unknowns sometimes, so sometimes we don’t know what’s happening,” Tassin said. “A very typical call is someone who calls in because they’re just kind of hopeless, they’ve got suicidal thoughts. Maybe they have a plan and they really just need resources and support.”
Tassin said the team typically operates in the city’s core, but if they scale up staff with more units, they may be able to regularly reach every neighborhood of the city during every police shift.
AMRT operates 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. You can request their services through 911 or by calling the non-emergency dispatch line at 303-627-3100.
Crisis Response Team
Aurora’s Crisis Response Team was first developed in 2018, and has since scaled up to five units, which is its full-operating strength. This team pairs a mental health clinician with a crisis intervention-trained Aurora Police officer.
“It’s a great role, these officers and these clinicians, they go out every day and they’re making a difference in people’s lives,” said Sgt. Tom Graham. “Aside from that, they’re helping our patrol officers go out and help other people who are in process at the same time, without having them being tied up for an hour or two, helping these other folks. So it helps us on multiple fronts.”
This team responds to situations where there is an elevated presence of danger, compared to AMRT, including situations where a suspect may be a danger to themselves or other people. The team responded to more than 1,000 calls in 2022.
The Crisis Response Team operates from Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.