Durham, North Carolina – WRAL has reported extensively on violent crime in Durham. There is now a new program that could help ease the burden on police officers.
According to WRAL Data Trackers, agents in Durham received more than 66,000 calls last year to respond to mental health issues, welfare checks and assistance.
When you dial 911 in Durham in the future, your emergency call may be routed to an alternative first responder team instead of the police. Durham is transforming the way he approaches community safety with advice from a group in Denver, Colo.
A van with paramedics and clinicians equipped with radios and scanners is a sight you may very well see one day in the town of Bull.
“I mean, I think it seems like a big step and really makes sense,” said Bradley Johnson, who lives in Durham.
Durham is working to create a program similar to the Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program in Denver.
“We are trauma educated, we are harm reducers,” said Carleigh Sailon, STAR operations manager.
“There’s kind of no situation that you can present to the STAR team that we wouldn’t be able to help with. We can get creative and come up with solutions,” Sailon added.
In over a year, they have successfully responded to over 1,000 low-level calls where the police were not needed.
“1,685 calls without ever needing to call the police due to a security issue. This redirects calls that were really never supposed to be on the law enforcement plate in the first place to a team. In turn, this serves as a multiplier force for the police department so that they can respond more quickly to crimes, ”Sailon added.
30% of calls received by the Denver 911 system arrive after Denver police officers arrive at the scene and recognize that they are not the right answer to the situation. The agents then redirect the calls to STAR.
“During the pilot, we led a team and a van in our downtown area. It is a clinician, social worker or LPC and paramedic. They are walking around the city. pick up all day in downtown and carry police radios and take those little level calls through the 911 system, ”Sailon said.
WRAL Data Trackers found in Durham over the past three years that between 2-3% of all calls each year were for “mental disorders, social assistance, personal assistance and mental health transfer.” “.
“What we’ve learned from in-depth analysis of our own 911 calls over the past year, and it won’t surprise anyone, is that people call 911 for a variety of reasons and with various needs,” said Ryan Smith. , the director of the community safety service in Durham.
That’s why city leaders turn to this team in Denver to learn how to implement best practices.
“I think this winter would be the earliest we have something like what Denver is doing,” Smith added.
Currently, nine of the 15 positions planned for Durham’s Community Safety Service are being filled in a six-month pilot study.
“We are talking about mental behavioral appeals. We are talking about quality of life calls, calls to general assistance. Please know that we are not talking about sending unarmed responders to calls that might involve violent crime or gunfire, ”Smith added.
“I think Durham looks really looking to the future and I can’t wait to see how it goes,” Johnson added.
Denver’s STAR program is now expanding due to its positive impact and response to appeals. “Being able to introduce yourself and support people on what could be a really bad day for them and to offer trauma informed practices, resources and links and all of those things I think have been very helpful. well accepted by the community, ”added Johnson.
In this program, no injuries were reported among personnel responding to these calls.
Durham’s Community Safety Pilot Program will update leaders later this fall with a report on how things are going so far. The ministry always carefully recruits alternative first responders.