Denver mayor wants police to be less involved in homeless encampment calls

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver police will be responding to fewer calls about camps in the city, according to the mayor’s office.  Officials say the mayor wants concerns about tents, those experiencing homelessness, or people experiencing a behavioral crisis to go through the city’s 311 line first.

A statement from the mayor’s office reads, in part:

“This is the next step in a series of on-going efforts to provide an alternative response to calls and better manage the community’s concerns around encampments. We know that not every call requires a police response. So, following the successful implementation of our co-responder program and the STAR program, the Mayor has directed that police officers not be the first to respond to routine calls about encampments or those experiencing a behavioral crisis. Those calls will be routed through 3-1-1, so that we can continue to prioritize connecting people with services as quickly as possible.”

The mayor’s office says police will still be involved in public health and safety cleanups at large encampments, noting there are no plans for a policy change.

Recently, Denver City Council voted to continue operating its sanctioned Safe Outdoor Space at 16th Street and North Pearl Street through 2021, organizers say.

“We’re working to advance a practical solution that provides a resource rich, service rich model that gives people access that they need and alleviates pressures in neighborhoods,” Exec. Dir. Cole Chandler of the Colorado Village Collaborative said.

Chandler says the city’s two sanctioned camps have had to cap wait lists at 100 people due to high demand, noting council members have approved plans for a third Safe Outdoor Space. The location has yet to be determined.

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