Denver’s public safety department recently partnered with Mile High United Way to roll out an online community resource map that allows users who may be struggling to find the nearby support they need.
The tool — called the Community Asset and Resource Mapping Application, or CARMA — is part of the Denver Opportunity Index, a manifestation of the “philosophical shift” in public safety service delivery, which, under the leadership of public safety head Troy Riggs, aims to address social issues facing Denver residents.
Riggs in 2018 announced his commitment to a philosophy change within the department that focuses on understanding and tackling the underlying issues that often lead Denverites to committing a crime. This is the next step in his plan.
“[CARMA] provides real-time information to help someone connect to resources in the moment,” Riggs said in a statement. “Many of our public safety staff see firsthand the struggles facing our residents and having this information immediately available can be a game-changer.”
The web-based tool provides searchable information about free and discounted community resources, such as urgent care facilities, mental health providers and where to find food. The resources are linked to Mile High United Way’s 2-1-1 database, and the information is updated regularly.
“Mile High United Way 2-1-1 Help Center’s goal has always been to help our community navigate and get connected to critical resources,” said Christine Benero, president and CEO of Mile High United Way. “We are grateful to the City and County of Denver and Public Safety for elevating our work, the resources available and helping educate our community on how they can get connected to the support they need.”
“Our neighborhoods and communities are strengthened when residents trust the people serving them, and that trust is enhanced when our city officials take an equity-focused approach to supporting those in our community who are struggling,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “This new tool will help our safety officials and outreach workers get people the support they need through a compassionate approach to our interactions with them.”
CARMA has been piloted by Denver’s police department since August. Its impact team saw firsthand how useful the tool was when one of their contact officers was flagged by a “distraught” man who was crying and asking for help finding someone to talk with. The officer accessed CARMA on his phone and found a counseling service accepting new clients less than 100 yards away. The man was able to book an appointment the same day.
Soon, the police department’s Homeless Outreach Team and Denver Human Services will use the tool as well.
“Denver Human Services’ mission is to partner with our community to protect those in harm’s way and help all people in need,” DHS Executive Director Don Mares said. “This map enhances existing partnerships by enabling our outreach teams to connect clients to resources even more quickly and accurately, supporting our vision of a healthy and connected community.”