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St. Louis mayor, Rep. Bush explore Denver public safety idea

July 8, 2021 GMT

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and Democratic U.S. Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri visited Denver Thursday to investigate a program that has mental health care professionals and social workers respond to some emergency calls without police backup.

Denver’s Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program handled more than 1,300 911 calls last year without sending police officers, according to a news release.

Bush, of St. Louis, filed a bill on Monday that seeks to limit people’s encounters with armed law enforcement officers by sending social workers to some types of calls.

Jones said the Denver program reimagines how to deploy police in certain situations, leaving officers free to concentrate on solving violent crime.

Under the STAR program, social workers and mental health professionals respond to emergency calls in such areas as homelessness, trespassing, welfare checks and suspected drug use.

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Jones and Bush will host a virtual press conference Friday to discuss the program, KMOV-TV reported.