Skip to content

Breaking News

Local News |
Law enforcement agencies see cuts in state-funded mental health aid as more departments seek support


Area law enforcement agencies received less aid for mental health programs this year after demand for funding nearly doubled from previous years.

During this year’s funding cycle, 75 agencies applied for aid from the state’s Peace Officers Mental Health Support grant program, compared to about 36 agencies in previous years, Ella Bowman, grant program manager with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, wrote in an email.

Longmont Public Safety Department has applied for the grant program for the past three years, said Dan Eamon, assistant public safety chief.

Eamon said the department received about $99,000 this year, down from $150,000 the year prior.

“They had a whole lot more applicants this year, so they had to trim down the amount they awarded,” he said. “I think maybe more people found out about it. I think it’s a combination of that and the increased need.”

Eamon said the funding can only be used to support commissioned officers. Longmont uses the money to employ a full-time, in-house counselor who offers unlimited therapy to officers. In addition, the grant also pays for outside counseling services for Longmont officers.

“It’s really incumbent on the department to provide as much support as we can for our employees, especially those that experience trauma on a daily basis,” he said. “When this grant became available, we just jumped on it and were able to hire an in-house therapist 40 hours a week.”

Eamon said there may be less funding available this year for outside therapy, but he thinks the department should still be able to maintain the same resources.

“It might reduce the chunk of money for outside counseling that’s available — not by a huge amount but by a little bit,” he said. “My hope is that we’re able to provide whatever is necessary for officers. Without the grant, we wouldn’t be able to pay for these (services).”

In 2019, Boulder Police Department received $67,600 from the Peace Officers Mental Health Support grant program, said Gina Coluzzi, business services manager with the Boulder Police Department. This year, the department received $30,858 — less than half the amount it was given in 2019.

“The first award was to pay for overtime for police officers to do ride-alongs for what used to be our EDGE (Early Diversion Get Engaged) program, which has now been brought into the city into our housing and human services department,” she said.

The EDGE program formally operated with Mental Health Partners before it was moved in-house.

Coluzzi said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boulder Police Department was not able to use all of the funding from the grant and received permission to use a chunk of it to purchase a new vehicle.

This year, the funding will be used to pay for a clinician that officers are able to see up to six times per year.

“We have an employee assistance program at the city, but we went through some pretty drastic budget cuts in 2021 so this supplements that program,” she said. “It is definitely a worthwhile grant in light of everything we’ve been through this year. Having this kind of grant is critical funding.”