A breakdown in mental health services across the state of Colorado has left law enforcement on the front lines of handling people in crisis. 

The Rocky Mountain PBS Insight with John Ferrugia team spent more than a year gathering stories from all over the state showing the often-tragic interactions between the criminal justice system and people who are suffering a mental health crisis. 

The stories show mentally ill people are being shot by police and officers are being wounded and even killed in these interactions.

People, often judged mentally incompetent, are spending months in jail without trial waiting through a backlogged mental evaluation system. And police officers say rather than investigating crimes, they are often spending much of their day trying to help people who should be receiving mental health treatment.  

In this special hour-long program, “Breakdown,” Insight explores how jails have become the primary gateway to mental health treatment in Colorado, and is asking what the state is doing to try to address it.

If you need mental health services, contact Colorado Crisis Services for confidential support: 844-493-TALK (8255) or text “TALK” to 38255.

Three-Part Breakdown Podcast Series 

Subscribe to the Insight podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Soundcloud.


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A Pueblo police officer used his crisis intervention training to save an armed man who seemed determined to die in a suicide-by-cop.

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Colorado deputies involved in shootings with mentally ill gunmen ask whether incidents could have been prevented

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Both men agreed to interviews with the Rocky Mountain PBS “Insight with John Ferrugia” team as part of a year-long investigation into how the state’s lack of access to mental health treatment often leave police and jails on the front lines of handling people in crisis.

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Insight with John Ferrugia is in-depth, independent and incisive. John and a team of investigative journalists present thoroughly researched stories of significance to Colorado.