The Community Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) team consists of behavioral health clinicians, case managers and paramedics, who respond to 911 and the Police & Fire non-emergency line calls that do not present safety or serious medical concerns and may be more appropriate for health care and behavioral health professionals.


The Community Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) pilot program creates an alternative to police response for calls that are not criminal in nature, do not present safety concerns, and may be more appropriate for health care and behavioral health professionals. CARE does not respond to calls with a report of criminal activity, threats of violence, physical disturbance, weapons, injuries, or major medical need. The CARE team complements the Crisis Intervention Response Team, which can respond to higher acuity calls than CARE.

Consisting of a behavioral health clinician, paramedic, and intensive case management, this program is another way to assist community members with complex needs.

What to Expect

Through this pilot, the city aims to:

  • Help people feel supported and able to manage challenges while staying in the community.
  • Increase positive health impacts for community members served by CARE and reduce future emergency services calls for those individuals through connection to ongoing community services.
  • Better use police and fire resources by diverting calls that could be more appropriately served by an alternative response.

Connect with the Community Assistance Response and Engagement Team

Contact CARE about a crisis

  • In an emergency call 911. In a non-emergency, call 303-441-3333.

We respond to calls involving concerns about a person’s wellbeing.

  • Calls may involve concerns about anxiety, depression, thoughts or statements about suicide, substance use, minor medical issues, or a person who is experiencing a decline and not receiving appropriate care.


Seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Other non-police resources

Colorado Crisis Services and Mental Health Partners clinicians and support specialists are available 24/7:

  • Call: 1-844-493-8255 or 988
  • Text: TALK to 38255
  • Visit: 3180 Airport Road in Boulder.

Contact CARE program staff

  • Call 303-709-4291 for general questions about the CARE program.
  • Do not call this number for crisis response.
  • Because of the nature of our work, this number is not always monitored, but we return most calls within 24 hours.

FAQs on Concerning Situations

Community members often express that they don’t know what to do when they see someone they’re worried about, or witness behavior that is concerning but not criminal. While there is not a perfect answer to most situations, below are some answers to more specific, frequently asked questions about how to get help when you’re not sure what to do. This FAQ covers services offered by the City of Boulder. Longmont and Boulder County have their own dedicated co-response teams.

What does “behavioral health” mean? Behavioral health refers to situations where a person is experiencing mental health and/or a substance use issues.

Most of the time, the answer is to call the Police and Fire Communications at 911 (if the situation seems like an emergency or if you’re unsure) or the non-emergency line at 303-441-3333.

Community members are not expected to know whether a situation is dangerous or not, so the best option is calling Boulder Police and Fire Communication so that an appropriate assessment of the situation can be made. The goal of the Police Department is not to arrest people with behavioral health issues, and not all behavior that seems concerning is illegal. Whenever possible, police will bring licensed behavioral health clinicians that can help people de-escalate and connect to services. Community members can request clinicians when they call police dispatch if the situation appears to involve someone in behavioral health crisis. There are some situations in which officers legally have no choice but to arrest the individual.

CARE and CIRT prioritize helping people meet their needs while remaining in the community. We recognize that involuntary mental health treatment can be traumatic and make it hard to trust the behavioral health system as a whole. Our goal is to support people to make their own choices about treatment. We initiate mental health holds in a very small number of our calls, and only when there are no other options and there is a foreseeable, imminent risk of harm.

Multiple options exist for community members needing behavioral health help, including:

  • Colorado Crisis Line: 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255.
  • 24/7 Walk-in Crisis Center & Addiction Services at 3180 Airport Rd.
  • Mobile Crisis Response through Colorado Crisis Line - Crisis clinicians respond to mental health crises in the community including schools, workplaces, centers of worship, private residences, hotels/motels, shelters, stores, community events, outdoor areas, and many other locations. A mobile crisis response can avoid the possibility of law enforcement involvement and/or psychiatric hospitalizations. A mobile response from this team may not be appropriate in all situations. For example, the person for whom mobile crisis response is being called must agree to the service. Call Colorado Crisis Line at 1-844-493-8255 to see if a mobile response is appropriate.

The City of Boulder and its partners operate or fund numerous behavioral health and homelessness programs, including the following programs targeted to meet people where they are out in the community:

  • Boulder Targeted Homelessness Engagement and Referral Effort (BTHERE) – a three-person team with personal experience with homelessness and housing instability, street outreach and engagement, and mental health training. BTHERE provides education and resources with its primary goals of engaging and building relationships as well as connecting people experiencing unsheltered homelessness to services.
  • Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) – two Boulder Police Department officers that focus on engaging people experiencing homelessness in services and housing rather than enforcement actions.
  • Municipal Court Homeless Navigator – focuses on connecting court-involved people experiencing homelessness with appropriate services.

In addition, the city provides funding for behavioral health and homeless services through Mental Health Partners, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and other community partners. Programs are evaluated on a regular basis to identify new needs and opportunities for improvement.

Co-response and Alternative Response Programs

When clinicians respond to call for service through either CIRT or CARE, they use this opportunity to connect people to services to help prevent future crises.

  • Community Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) - licensed behavioral health clinicians and paramedics that respond to calls that do not present safety or serious medical concerns. CARE is not an outreach team but aims to connect people it interacts with to resources to prevent future crises.
  • Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) – licensed behavioral health clinicians that can help people de-escalate and connect to services. CIRT responds with Boulder Police Department officers when the police are called to a situation involving behavioral health. Like CARE, CIRT is not an outreach team but also works to resource people it interacts with.

Boulder Police Department officers respond to a variety of calls and work to resolve situations using the most beneficial options, including asking for a CIRT response or making referrals to service providers. Certain criteria must be met to arrest someone or take them to the hospital or detox involuntarily for mental health or substance use reasons. Involuntary treatment is associated with significant negative long-term outcomes for many people, so these options should be used thoughtfully and only as a last resort. In most instances involving behavioral health issues, CIRT or CARE will be dispatched to calls for service.

We all have civil rights, including the right to refuse treatment and decline to participate in programs. Sometimes people face complex behavioral health issues that make it difficult for them to understand the help they’re being offered and accept it. There are also situations in which treatment options don’t fully meet individual needs. Although the city works proactively with local and regional partners to support behavioral health needs, availability of treatment options is a national issue involving a complex web of factors including healthcare funding streams, regulations, workforce issues, and the difficulty of delivering effective treatments for some disorders.