DENVER (CBS4)– Police in Denver are teaming up with social workers to help those in need. The partnership has helped nearly 2,000 people since it debuted last year.

(credit: CBS)

The Crisis Intervention Unit works by helping people who are struggling with mental health issues, treating them as patients instead of criminals, from the very first encounter.

Denver Police honors officers Jim López Mike Borquez neighborhood watch district 3

(credit: CBS)

“This is typically the worst day in somebody’s life. They are struggling, they’re in crisis and having a hard time. And just having someone who can provide support and be a friendly face on that scene can be so meaningful and the hope is that we can bring the support outside the four walls of the clinic,” said Crisis Intervention Response Unit assistant program manager Carleigh Sailon.

Denver started the program three-and-a-half years ago and has added clinicians over the years.