In Denver, Defunding the Police Resulted in a Better City

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The city of Denver was already planning to limit the scope of the police before the calls for defunding gained momentum the start of this year. Denver accelerated their plans though, and the results are already so promising that other cities should start copying what Denver has done. Instead of sending out armed forces to help people cope with mental issues, the city is sending out mental health workers. This means that the people who need help are getting it, and the police can do something else.

Since its launch June 1, the STAR van has responded to more than 350 calls, replacing police in matters that don’t threaten public safety and are often connected to unmet mental or physical needs. The goal is to connect people who pose no danger with services and resources while freeing up police to respond to other calls. The team, which is not armed, has not called police for backup, Sailon said.

“We’re really trying to create true alternatives to us using police and jails,” said Vinnie Cervantes with Denver Alliance for Street Health Response, one of the organizations that helped start the program.

Though it had been years in the making, the program launched just four days after protests erupted in Denver calling for transformational changes to policing in response to the death of George Floyd.

“It really kind of proves that we’ve been working for the right thing, and that these ideas are getting the recognition they should,” Cervantes said.

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Denver Saved Itself by Investing in Trains

Good Street from Streetmix

The 1970s oil crisis left an impact on the city of Denver in the forms of good public transit. The writing was on the wall that individualized transit infrastructure that favoured the automobile wouldn’t be a good long-term solution for the city so they did something. Thanks to the initiative taken decades ago Denver witnessed how good transit infrastructure built for people can positively shape a city. Since then light rail has been added to the city thus saving itself from turning into a generic, sprawling, and parking filled North American sub-urban community.

“We are talking about a culture-transforming moment,” says Denver mayor Michael Hancock. “Light rail has really moved Denver into the 21st century.”


How the $7.6 billion FasTracks project saved Denver from a dreaded fate locals call “Houstonization” is the story of regional cooperation that required the buy-in of businesspeople, elected officials, civil servants and environmentalists across a region the size of Delaware. Their ability to work collectively—and the public’s willingness to approve major taxpayer investments—has created a transit system that is already altering Denver’s perception of itself, turning an auto-centric city into a higher-density, tightly-integrated urban center that aims to outcompete the bigger, older coastal cities on the global stage.

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