Denver Public Safety to Carry Food Items & Address Hunger

As part of public safety service delivery under the Denver Opportunity Index, first responders will soon take an extra three minutes to address hunger.

Denver wants front line public safety to give people in need food. The idea is that if first responders carry and distribute nonperishable food items, the effort will reduce crime.

According to the Denverite, the program will be developed with local aid groups and nonprofits as part of the Denver Opportunity Index, "a philosophical shift in public safety service delivery focused on identifying opportunities for strategic collaboration."

Zach Fleck, a senior financial analyst in the public safety department acknowledged the plan is outside the norm of first responder duties.

With the idea that if we can get ahead of some of these issues — poverty, food security, behavioral health — then ultimately what will happen is the instances of crime will be lower in the future than they are today,” he said.

Denver's Executive Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs, former Indianapolis police chief, wants his department to help address long-term quality of life issues for a city with an estimated 80,000 people experiencing food insecurity and their increased statistical likelihood of experiencing violence.

A lot of stuff we’ve done has been short term ... That’s how police agencies, public safety respond across the nation. We want to start taking a deeper dive.”

The plan is for first responders to take an extra three minutes to provide the additional support, which could be to quickly provide food, or connect them to partnering community resources.

Painting Law Enforcement in a New Light

Cops, firefighters and EMTs distributing food items also dovetails with the Denver Police Department's community policing initiatives, according to the story.

“We understand that crime prevention is more than just arresting someone,” Riggs said. “If we can forge partnerships they understand our officers care.”

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