How Alternative Approaches to Law Enforcement are Working


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In the wake of the massive support for Black Lives Matter and demands for alternative law enforcement, the STAR program shares its success.

Launched in June 2020, the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program aims to assist the police officers of Denver, Colorado. The STAR program focuses on low-level, non violent incidents like trespassing and mental health crises. By directing citizens to the help they need, STAR keeps people out of a broken justice system. In doing so, they provide assistance with homeless shelters, food aid, counseling and medication. This way, police officers can focus on other cases and avoid unnecessary arrests.

In the first six months of operation, STAR has responded to over 700 incidents. Of those incidents, none resulted in arrests or jail time. They work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with roughly six calls a day. In fact, some of those calls come from the police themselves. Chief of Police Paul Pazen is in full support of the STAR program. He has been in communication with advocates for the program for years, and is thrilled to see the successes made.

According to Denverite and data from STAR, the majority of the incidents involved trespassing and welfare checks. Additionally, the main concern for those calls are related to mental health. While the program is working, the long term effects are still unknown. STAR voiced the need to collect more data for analysis.

It doesn’t end there. Denver plans on expanding the STAR program while developing a case manager hub and creating a diversion program for low-level offenses. The overall goal is to strengthen the relationships within the community while giving people a second chance.


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