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Project June 12, 2024

Colorado: Crisis Response in the Valley


Your Hope Center Executive Director Carrie Benway, whose organization deploys the mental health clinicians that staff Eagle County's co-response teams, speaks with mobile crisis program manager and clinician Jennifer Kim at their hub of operations in the Eagle County Paramedics building in October 2023. Image by Madison Rahhal/Vail Daily. United States.

Eagle County, Colorado, home to world-famous ski resort Vail Resorts, is often referred to as "the happy valley." But a heightened suicide rate revealed the mental health crisis underlying this idyllic picture of life in the county in 2017.

The rural community has had limited access to in-patient behavioral health facilities or service providers equipped to treat its many uninsured, low-income residents. Without preventive care, residents struggling with mental illness often turn to 911 in times of crisis.

In response, Eagle County voters approved a local marijuana tax in 2017 to fund mental health response programs. Since then, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue have been allocated to support a new co-response policing model and expand crisis intervention training for law enforcement and 911 dispatchers.

For this project, Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow Kelli Duncan (they/them) analyzed years of use of force reports, court documents, and 911 call logs countywide. They spoke with stakeholders in the valley and neighboring communities to answer one fundamental question: What impact has this historic increase in funding, training, and partnership had on improving mental health crisis response by Eagle County law enforcement?

Duncan's work is part of an ongoing investigative collaboration launched by MindSite News and Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism seeking to aggregate data on police response to mental health crises for cities and towns nationwide.

Duncan collaborated with the Vail Daily to deepen this reporting in a community that may otherwise have been overlooked.


navy halftone illustration of a female doctor with her arms crossed


Health Inequities

Health Inequities