In 2015, Denver city leaders from key health and public safety departments recognized that law enforcement officers were increasingly being dispatched to respond to individuals with mental health issues or in crisis, and that the criminal justice system is not designed to adequately address their needs. To address this critical gap, the Denver Police Department created the Crisis Intervention Response Unit (CIRU).

CIRU pairs licensed clinicians with police officers responding to calls for service involving individuals with suspected or known mental health needs. Since the program’s inception, clinicians have also been deployed to support Denver’s Downtown Detention Center and Harm Reduction Action Center, assist at-risk adult and intellectually/developmentally delayed victims involved in Special Victims Unit investigations, and aid the Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team.