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Denver opening jail diversion center to try to reduce crime

This summer, the City of Denver is planning to open a center where people can get connected with resources instead of going to jail.

DENVER — Denver's trying to cut down on crime by giving another option for people to go other than jail. By this summer, the city of Denver is planning to open a center where people can get connected with resources after an arrest.

This would be for those arrested for low level offenses such as trespassing and drug paraphernalia possession.

"Enforcement alone is not going to solve these problems," said Armando Saldate III, Denver's executive director of public safety. 

The AID (Assessment, Intake, Diversion) Center would open on the corner of Elati Street and 14th Avenue across from the jail downtown. 

This would be a resource center for law enforcement to divert persons who have low level offenses to connect them with more appropriate services. Those who are not involved in the criminal justice system but want a connection to services -- either via a service provider or a walk-in -- can also get help here. 

"Try to get to root causes for folks and get them the help they need so they don't have future criminal justice interactions," said Saldate.

The AID Center will focus on root causes such as healthcare, education and housing. The goal is to slowly reduce crime over time. 

"This is us saying we are not going to arrest ourselves out of problems," he said. "We want to offer alternatives."

Saldate hopes finding the reasons behind someone's criminal offense will help keep that person out of the criminal justice system. He said someone could have their criminal charge dropped if he or she successfully uses these resources. 

"There's opportunities for them to go to treatment, comply with treatment, comply with what the court is asking them to do as an alternative for this," he said. 

The program would start as a pilot program and future funding needs will be evaluated as part of the annual budget process.

RELATED: Denver council approves $1.4 million to expand STAR program

RELATED: Expansion of diversion program offers resources for youth

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