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Englewood asks voters to approve tax for alternative policing

It would add clinicians, a crisis diversion team and zone officers to help tackle homelessness, mental health issues and drug addiction.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Voters in Englewood will decide whether to approve an increase to the city’s sales and use tax to support a different style of policing for homelessness, mental health issues, and drug addiction.

Ballot measure 2C would increase the city’s sales and use tax by one-tenth of 1% to permanently fund the program. It includes clinicians that respond with police officers, crisis diversion team and zone officers who specifically respond to areas with a high crime rate with a specific goal of crime reduction.

“What we’re doing is going to the voters and asking for one-tenth of a cent,” Shawn Lewis, Englewood’s city manager, said. “This tax will allow us to fund all of these programs that we have that are dedicated to alternate policing.”

Lewis said the city polled voters earlier this year and found that a policing alternative and roadway construction were the highest priorities. The same polling shows about two-thirds of voters would approve increases in sales tax.

“Englewood, like a lot of the inner ring suburbs, has changed… very much so,” Lewis said. “We have seen an increase in crime. We’ve seen an increase in homelessness. We’ve also seen an increase in mental illness.”

The city already has a team of two zone police officers, two clinicians that work as co-responders, and a sergeant specifically assigned to addressing homelessness. Lewis said the new tax would fund those positions permanently, potentially allowing the city to expand them.

“It’ll also then free up funds to make up the gap that we’ve had because we’ve put all new resources into alternate policing over the last five years,” he said.

RELATED: Aurora City Council moves to fund crisis response team using city funds, secure more staff

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