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Denver taking new approach to handling homeless encampment complaints

Non-criminal complaints to 311 will be handled by the Early Intervention team instead of DPD.

DENVER — The City and County of Denver is taking a new approach to handling general complaints about local homeless encampments.

From now on those calls will go to the Early Intervention Team (EIT) instead of the Denver Police Department (DPD), according to Laura Dunwoody, the director of 311 City Services.

Dunwoody said the intention of the change is to get to people experiencing homelessness while the groupings are small.

The EIT will be able to work with unhoused individuals and team them up with resources that can help them get off the streets, Dunwoody said.

Dunwoody explained the EIT has the ability to bring in an array of additional services such as the STAR program, which provides social workers and paramedics who can help people with mental health issues.

She said the change was made primarily to better align people experiencing homelessness with the resources that specialize in those services while freeing up DPD for more traditional policing duties.

RELATED: City appeals after judge rules Denver must give at least 48 hours notice prior to homeless sweeps

DPD will still handle reports of crimes being committed in and around homeless encampments, Dunwoody said.

The change went into effect Friday. Dunwoody said they are expecting to send about 25 cases to EIT per day, adding that multiple calls will often come in about a single location.

RELATED: Denver extends contracts to continue housing homeless in hotels during COVID-19 crisis

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