DENVER — The Denver Police Department has launched their new "Citywide Impact Team" that's made up of a sergeant, officers and a mental health clinician.
Their stated goal is to give neighborhoods some long-term care by routinely visiting an area long after the first officers who showed up to respond to an incident have to move on to their next call.
"We come in as a support system to those officers," said Sgt. Carla Havard, who helps lead the team. "We go to school issues all the way up to the highest, unfortunately, most violent incidents."
This DPD team has been routinely visiting the Ball Park neighborhood before and after a shooting killed one person and injured five others in November near 21st and Larimer.
Chief of Police Paul Pazen created the team in September. That's when the team started to regularly visit residents, the homeless community and business owners in Ball Park - like Justin Frazen who owns the Grafenberg Theater.
"Most of the time I have to call a couple of times for non-emergencies," he said.
Then the shooting happened. Denver police said it was an unacceptable show of violence. The Citywide Impact Team said they realized they needed to show up more. Since then, DPD said 50 people asked for help through the Mental Health Center of Denver and Denver Health Paramedics.
They also arrested six people for outstanding warrants and cited one person for making threats.
"Most of the times the bad guys see officers and hide for a few minutes and then officers have to go address other issues," said Havard, "We have the flexibility and luxury and support to stay in those areas as long as necessary."
The officers visit so frequently they now know some people in the homeless community by name and, in one instance, noticed if the cane they used to walk is missing. They check-in with them to connect with resources as well as visit with business owners to hear their safety concerns.
"I don't think you can go wrong with officers walking the streets constantly," said Officer Lynnea Vento.
Each DPD district has an impact team like this but the agency didn't have a team to support their own officers until they created one last year.
Frazen said he's noticed a change in the area around his business based off what happened earlier this week.
"Nothing! Nothing! It was great," he said, "We didn't have anyone yelling at us. We didn't have to deal with anything."
This team is designed to respond to incidents across the city. The department said there wasn't any new funding necessary to run this team.
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