Public Safety Response to Homelessness
Category: Law Enforcement
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol.
Today’s tip is for my friends in law enforcement. I’m going to offer some suggestions for working with your community’s homeless population.
Take the time to educate when interacting with your community. The homeless should not be discriminated against because of their life situation.
The number of people experiencing homelessness is a crisis in America. Over half a million people experience homelessness every year. And the numbers are on the rise. Chances are you’ve interacted with homeless persons in your community. Maybe they were seeking services. Or perhaps they were a victim or witness in an investigation.
Populations of those experiencing homelessness can vary greatly from one community to the next. It’s important to understand their needs. It also requires creating partnerships with other service providers to help with this systemic problem. Stakeholders in your community could include public health officials, mental health professionals, temporary housing providers, educational institutions, outreach groups, and non-profit organizations.
Consider assigning an agency liaison if staffing allows. This officer can coordinate with the other stakeholders to respond to or anticipate needs of your homeless persons. Your liaison can also bring back valuable information to the members of your agency.
No big surprise, but 2020 added additional stresses to homeless service providers. Longer lines at food pantries. Less beds at temporary shelters. Difficulty maintaining social distance. It likely caused the homelessness in your community to become more apparent to John Q Public. Take the time to educate when interacting with your community. The homeless should not be discriminated against because of their life situation. Many Americans suffered the loss of a job or some other unfortunate event recently.
With a better understanding of those experiencing homelessness in your population, you can provide a higher level of service and assist them in their time of need.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.