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aurora colorado, mental health police, police reform
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A police officer stands on-duty.

In the aftermath of the George Floyd murder in 2020, people have begun to rethink the role that armed police officers have in society. Does every problem need to be addressed by someone with the power to administer lethal force?

The Aurora Police Department in Colorado launched a six-month program last year that led to the creation of two mental health crisis response teams. The first pairs an officer with a mental health professional. The other pairs a mental health professional and a paramedic to handle mental health crisis situations where there is no apparent danger.

“When someone calls in to report either themselves or an individual in crisis, or maybe they just see someone who might need some resources and help, dispatch will put that in a call, and my team is able to click on the call, review everything and see if it meets criteria," Courtney Tassin, program manager for the Aurora Mobile Response Team, told 9News.

The Aurora Mobile Response Team's van is stocked full of food, water and hygiene products to help the people they encounter on the streets.

Over the first three months, the team went on 116 calls.


The Aurora Mobile Response Team launched in September

One study found that up to 10% of 911 calls nationwide could involve mental health issues. So it makes complete sense for police departments to respond to these situations with counselors trained in helping people with mental health issues instead of the knee-jerk reaction to send somebody with a gun.

Further, it allows police to do the work they’re trained to do instead of forcing them to act as mental health counselors. It also frees up the police so they can correctly respond to situations that may turn violent.

"A lot of times it's not appropriate for our officers to have to go to these calls, and you know, to possibly escalate the situation when it doesn't need to be so," Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson told CBS News.

The unarmed response teams are also less intimidating to people already on the edge.

"We always focus on what's least restrictive," Tassin told CBS News. "How do we keep from further traumatizing this person who's already in a very vulnerable state?"

The response team could reduce police shootings

The response team is a humane way to deal with people having mental health issues and it may also save lives. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians approached or stopped by law enforcement.

“By dismantling the mental illness treatment system, we have turned mental health crisis from a medical issue into a police matter,” said John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. “This is patently unfair, illogical, and is proving harmful both to the individual in desperate need of care and the officer who is forced to respond.”

The Aurora Police Department’s new program is a welcome challenge to the status quo that’s been in place in America for decades. For too long we’ve tacitly agreed that the state’s only response to civil disturbances should be sending a person with a gun. Now, thanks to the calls for justice that happened after the death of George Floyd, people are waking up to the idea that cops can’t and shouldn’t solve everything.

"We have calls for people that are in mental health crisis every day," Sergeant Aaron Bunch said. "Police officers are trained to do a lot of things. What they don't have are Master's degrees in social work."

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

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Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

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Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

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According to NBC News San Diego, Eliana Martin was shopping at Ralph’s supermarket when she accidentally left her purse in a shopping cart in the parking lot. After she left the store, she realized she had lost her purse and began frantically canceling her credit cards.

Shortly after Martin left the parking lot, a recent high school graduate, Adrian Rodriquez, 17, found her purse in the cart. Rodriguez searched the purse to look for an identification card to find where she lived so he could return it to her. He then drove over to the address on the identification card, where Melina Marquez, Martin's former roommate, currently lives.

Marquez wasn’t home so Rodriguez left the purse with a relative. Marquez later saw video of the drop-off on the family’s Ring doorbell camera.

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