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Behavioral health initiatives implemented throughout state - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Behavioral health initiatives implemented throughout state

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COLORADO -

The Colorado Department of Human Services announced 12 communities across the state will receive support in behavioral health and law enforcement partnerships.

The partnerships are in collaboration with the CDHS' Office of Behavioral Health. The new initiatives will provide local law enforcement with additional tools to neutralize situations that involve mental health or substance use disorders, according to a release.

The CDHS says these new tools will help people with mental health or substance use issues get the help they need to reduce the pattern of convicted criminals entering back into the criminal justice system. 

The Office of Behavioral Health received $5.2 million this fiscal year from the General Assembly to fund the two initiatives. 

“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 diversion program new to Colorado that's goal is to equip officers with the tools needed to direct individuals with low-level drug and prostitution offenses to case managers instead of the criminal justice system. According to a release, 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 funding for a three-year term for the program:

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

The Co-Responder model of criminal justice diversion, developed in Los Angeles and San Diego, partners law enforcement officers with behavioral health specialists to intervene on mental-health related calls. The goal of this model is to divert 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 for a five-year term to operate this model:

  • 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. Co-Responder is funded through Senate Bill 17-207 and is also Marijuana Tax Cash Fund dollars.

The communities selected to launch these new behavioral health initiatives plan to be implemented by early 2018. 

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