Northglenn police and code enforcement might be getting assistance that department heads say is desperately needed to help with conflict resolution. The city is considering a pilot for a crisis …
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Northglenn police and code enforcement might be getting assistance that department heads say is desperately needed to help with conflict resolution.
The city is considering a pilot for a crisis response unit, a team of behavioral health and case management specialists, to respond to emergencies with police or code enforcement to help with de-escalation. At a study session on Aug. 2, staff presented a proposal to the city council, which was unanimously supportive of the idea.
“I am in 100% full support of moving ahead with this pilot program. I feel like this is something that we have been asking for and pointing to at least since I have been on council,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jenny Willford.
The city’s plan for a crisis response unit seeks to address multiple community needs that the council discussed in a February strategic planning retreat, including establishing a police department-specific co-response team and a restorative justice program, and assisting code enforcement in certain scenarios.
Some of the other crisis response programs in local Colorado jurisdictions fall under the police department’s supervision but Northglenn’s would be under the city manager’s office and work with the police, code enforcement and the municipal court, explained Rupa Venkatesh, assistant to the city manager.
Representatives of all three departments voiced their support for the idea at the study session.
“This is an opportunity for us to really give that extra service to our community and those who are in crisis,” said Police Chief Jim May.
Municipal Court Judge Amanda Bailhache said the program is necessary because it could help people before they end up in a situation where they are arrested and end up in the court system.
Brook Svoboda, who oversees code enforcement for Northglenn, said, “To me, this program fills a huge hole in what we have tried to do in our best efforts.”
The crisis response unit would include a program manager, two co-responders — all staff positions that the city would need to add — and a community resource navigator, a part-time position that the city already has.
The program manager would be involved in court case management, assist co-responders, and work to implement a juvenile restorative justice program, while the co-responders are called to scenes to assist police and code enforcement with conflict resolution.
Both May and Svoboda said their officers have encountered individuals with mental or behavioral health issues. It would have been helpful to have a specialist on the scene to help with, they said.
The total estimated cost of the pilot program is $330,000, Venkatesh said. The city would even be able to use federal COVID-19 relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act, which allows money to be spent on crisis intervention services. Many councilors were supportive of using ARPA funds, although a few were wary of it. The city also said it has applied for grant funding.
After the council gave feedback, city staff said they would do more work on the funding piece before coming back to the council with a formal measure to approve the program.
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