AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The Problem Solvers have an update to a story from a few months ago, about Aurora’s co-responder program. This program pairs behavioral health specialists with first responders on certain 911 calls.
Back in October 2022, FOX31 reported how the program was understaffed with few mental health clinicians. But now that’s changed, with only one position left to fill.
This is great news for the City of Aurora, its police department, and partner UCHealth, which has had a huge role in ensuring these programs are back to full strength.
“I will tell you, we see a lot of individuals from schools, just the community in general, requesting these units,” said Courtney Tassin, who oversees the city’s co-responder program.
“We are thrilled to announce that we’re partnering with UCHealth and with that, we’ve been able to hire six out of the seven of our clinical positions,” Tassin added.
The Problem Solvers have learned five of those positions are with the Crisis Response Team, or the law enforcement model of the program. The other is with the city’s Mobile Response Team. Right now, UCHealth is looking to hire one more licensed clinician for the latter team. When they do, Aurora’s crisis programs will be fully staffed.
Here’s where you can apply for the open licensed clinician position.
“UCHealth already has five co-responder programs already up and running successfully across the state,” said Ariel Solomon, the senior clinical supervisor for UCHealth Aurora’s co-responder team.
“Aurora Police Department and the City of Aurora have been so excited and such amazing partners to work with during this process,” she explained.
Co-responders help with mental health calls
For those who are unfamiliar with these programs, they are not a substitute for policing but more of a supplement, allowing officers to focus more on criminal and lifesaving actions. For instance, if there is a crime in progress or a person is armed, police will take lead on that response.
“We’ll give the reporting party a call typically to let them know, ‘Hey, here’s who we are, here’s what we do. Would you feel comfortable with us coming out instead?’ Because sometimes people call and they really do want the police department, even if maybe it’s presenting like a mental health concern,” Tassin explained.
New numbers from city officials confirm that while understaffed last year, the Aurora Mobile Response Team responded to close to 500 calls. The Crisis Response Team, which has been around a little longer, responded to a little over a thousand calls.