CDHS Announces New Community Behavioral Health Partnerships with Local Law Enforcement

DENVER (Jan. 10, 2018) —The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) today announced 12 awards to communities to support behavioral health and law enforcement partnerships in collaboration with CDHS’ Office of Behavioral Health (OBH).

The new initiatives—the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and Co-Responder programs—will provide local law enforcement with additional tools to de-escalate situations that involve mental health or substance use disorders, get people the services they need and reduce the cycle of recidivism. OBH received $5.2 million this fiscal year from the General Assembly to fund the two initiatives. The communities applied for the awards and were chosen by a committee convened by CDHS.

“Empowering communities to address mental health care and substance use disorders through stronger partnerships and increased understanding is an ongoing priority,” said Robert Werthwein, director of CDHS’ Office of Behavioral Health. “By diverting individuals with low-level offenses from the criminal justice system, more Coloradans can receive the holistic treatment they need that can make a difference in reducing crime in our communities.”

LEAD is a pre-booking diversion program new to Colorado that aims to equip officers with the tools to route individuals with low-level drug and prostitution offenses to case managers and services instead of the criminal justice system. The case managers will connect these individuals to resources and services like housing, substance use treatment or vocational training. The following communities will receive up to $575,000 per year, funded through the Long Bill from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, to operate LEAD as a pilot program for a three-year term:

  • City of Alamosa
  • Denver County
  • City of Longmont
  • Pueblo County

The Co-Responder model of criminal justice diversion, developed successfully in Los Angeles and San Diego, partners law enforcement officers with behavioral health specialists to intervene on mental health-related calls. These two-person teams will work to de-escalate situations by diverting individuals in crisis for immediate behavioral health assessments instead of arrest.

The following communities will receive up to $362,500 per fiscal year from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund to operate Co-Responder for a five-year term:

  • City and County of Broomfield
  • Denver County
  • El Paso County
  • City of Evans
  • City of Grand Junction
  • Larimer County
  • City of Longmont
  • Pitkin County

Police departments in Arvada, Boulder/Longmont, Colorado Springs, Denver, Lakewood, Littleton, Montrose, Parker and Pueblo currently operate Co-Responder programs. The communities that already operate Co-Responder models will use the new funds to expand and serve additional populations. Co-Responder is funded through Senate Bill 17-207 and is also Marijuana Tax Cash Fund dollars.

Communities selected to launch these new behavioral health initiatives will work closely with CDHS to develop contracts and finalize award amounts, with implementation beginning in 2018.



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