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Residents weigh in on possibility of STAR 911 response program coming to St. Louis

On Thursday, Mayor Jones and Congresswoman Cori Bush traveled to Denver, Colorado, to learn more about the city's Support Team Assistance Response program

ST. LOUIS — "We wanted to see what's working and how," said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.

On Thursday, Mayor Jones and Missouri's First District Congresswoman Cori Bush traveled to Denver, Colorado, to learn more about the city's Support Team Assistance Response program, also known as STAR.

"I talk a lot about connecting the right resource to the right call because our police are exhausted," Jones said.

The STAR program kicked off in the mile-high city last summer. It allows mental health care professionals, social workers and paramedics to hop in a highly-equipped van, hit the streets and respond to low-level 911 calls, instead of police officers.

Mayor Jones and Representative Bush are hoping the STAR mobile crisis team can take off in St. Louis, help take stress off officers and allow them to handle more serious, emergency calls.

"Many calls to STAR originate from officers themselves looking for help dealing with people who are having a mental health or substance abuse crises," Jones said.

"STAR responders save money for our communities by reducing the amount of police, fire and EMS trucks that are deployed to our communities," Bush said. "Across the country, we are seeing cities shifting to alternatives to policing. They are treating public safety as a public health issue."

So, how do St. Louisans feel about the possibility of the STAR coming here?

"St. Louis is a very dangerous city and I honestly don't think it will work here," said Alex Alford.

"I'm not sure how long it would last without cops not being available to help the social workers and others," said Charkeyah Martin.

"I think it can work. You just got to give everything a chance," said Andre Harris.

 And, Mayor Jones is willing to do just that.

"We're exploring now. We're learning new things and hopefully, we'll be able to apply these things in the near future," added Mayor Jones.

Denver's STAR Program started last summer.

Congresswoman Cori Bush tells 5 On Your Side since its inception the Star Team Responders responded to more than 1,300 calls, and never needed backup from Denver police.

   

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