Re: Homes Not Jails an emerging police policy? Good? Bad? Why?

Thomas Cagle (nh-adapt@juno.com)
Sun, 3 Oct 1999 09:11:39 -0400


On Sat, 02 Oct 1999 22:03:01 -0700 (PDT) Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net>
writes:
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>Will "police as social workers" leave homeless people better off?
>Should we welcome this trend?  Why or why not?
Hi Tom B
I think there may be a couple of cross purposes being blended together in
these articles.

Many towns want to do the right thing. That includes but is not limited
to: holding behavior accountable. Later paragraphs outline the more
efficient routine arrests for outstanding warrants. As well as getting
those that need services connected to them.

>Why are corporate media publishing a spate of articles
>recently about police helping homeless people?
>
>If the "news" article below were an ad, who and what would it be for?
The national republican's however want to gut the very programs that
these cops utilize to award huge tax rebates to the very richest
americans, and to deflect any real examination of corporate tax breaks
(which are huge). 

If everything that repubs want is either eliminated or shoved into
emergency spending, then these cops are going to all dressed up with now
where to go.

TomC 

>http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/1999/09/29/state1302ED
>T0013.DTL&type=printable
>FWD  [CA, USA] Las Vegas Sun - Wednesday, September 29, 1999
>     NEVADA FOCUS:
>
>     POLICE HELP GET HOMELESS LODGING, SERVICES
>
>     JACE RADKE, Las Vegas Sun
>
>LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A Metro Police officer has admitted to a string of 
>thefts
>in downtown Las Vegas.
>
>Officer Eric Fricker's latest theft involved a young family of three 
>who he
>met outside of the Salvation Army before the sun came up one day.
>
>``I steal people from the Salvation Army and other facilities,'' 
>Fricker
>said. ``I keep a look out for families, the elderly and the mentally 
>ill
>and then I steal them. If I can get my claws into a family in the 
>morning I
>know it will be a busy day.''
>
>Fricker ``steals'' homeless people and tries to find them low-income
>housing and services as one of two officers stationed at the new MASH
>Village substation.
>
>Fricker is part of Metro's Homeless Evaluation Liaison Project, or 
>HELP
>team, that is now focusing on getting the homeless off the streets 
>through
>shelters and services instead of through the Clark County Detention 
>Center.
>
>Just before 6 a.m. recently, Fricker spies the Rodriguez family, 
>Alvaro,
>Dorthey and their 6-month-old son, Nathan, as they huddle waiting for
>breakfast to be served at the Salvation Army.
>
>Alvaro tells Fricker he lost his construction job and couldn't afford 
>to
>make payments on the family's car, which has been repossessed by the 
>owner.
>
>After Fricker calls in some favors, works the telephone and does a 
>little
>pleading the Rodriguez family has a permanent spot at MASH Village, 
>Alvaro
>gets a lead on a new job, a payment plan is worked out for the car and
>Nathan has fresh diapers.
>
>``It tickles me to death to see this guy with a gun doing social 
>work,''
>MASH director Ken Robinson said of Fricker. ``This new substation is 
>really
>taking the HELP team to new levels. It is really starting to resemble 
>the
>vision Sheriff Jerry Keller had when he started the program.''
>
>Keller began HELP in 1991, when he was captain of Metro's northeast 
>area
>command, shortly after the American Civil Liberties Union won a suit
>against the department over the enforcement of loitering laws and 
>vagrancy
>statutes.
>
>At the time Keller wrote of HELP, ``This team will not be another
>two-officer foot patrol ... paddywagon team. It will foster a 
>philosophy of
>helping people rather than herding people.''
>
>Fricker and his partner, Officer Bill Stockdale, moved into the new
>substation at MASH, on Main Street, on Sept. 1, and have taken the
>sheriff's philosophy to heart.
>
>``We give them a lot of freedom, because they are creative officers 
>that
>are helping people who need it,'' Downtown Area Command Capt. Dan 
>Berry
>said. ``They are able to balance enforcement and intervention.''
>
>Stockdale handles most of the criminal calls in the homeless corridor,
>which runs along Main Street from downtown to Owens Avenue and 
>includes the
>Union Pacific railroad tracks.
>
>Fricker meanwhile goes about his stealing.
>
>Fricker and Stockdale eat lunch at the major shelters, MASH, Catholic
>Charities, Salvation Army and Shade Tree almost everyday, and the 
>homeless
>community's response is evident as the officers patrol the corridor 
>getting
>waves and smiles from people.
>
>Jerry Johnson, 41, greets Fricker every morning at Salvation Army, 
>where
>Johnson works as a cook and supervisor.
>
>Johnson, who lost his job in a Chicago research company and moved to 
>Las
>Vegas looking for work five years ago, believes the HELP team is a 
>step in
>the right direction when it comes to dealing with the valley's 
>homeless.
>
>``I stayed in a shelter in Chicago for awhile, but there is nothing 
>there
>like this with all the facilities crammed in such a tight space,'' 
>Johnson
>said. ``With such a high concentration of homeless in such a small 
>area you
>can't help but have a high crime rate.
>
>``But by having Eric (Fricker) here and people knowing who he is and 
>not
>just that he is a police officer it minimizes any manure that might 
>pop
>up.''
>
>Fricker and Stockdale usually start their day at the Salvation Army at
>about 5:30 a.m. From there they make a patrol through the railyard 
>that
>runs just west of Main Street.
>
>``There are some regulars who sleep out by the tracks behind the 
>Salvation
>Army and we try to treat them as a community,'' Fricker said. ``We try 
>to
>keep track of who's out here and get them into one of the shelters, 
>and we
>don't allow them to build any shanty towns or structures.''
>
>The officers have made 166 contacts in the last month and have started
>taking photos, names and birth dates from the homeless in the area for 
>easy
>identification.
>
>``We hope to incorporate the photos into a database, so we can quickly
>check the homeless against any suspect descriptions we might have,''
>Fricker said.
>
>The process is already coming in handy when the officers are asked to 
>serve
>warrants to the homeless.
>
>``We are starting to have a lot more contact with the robbery and 
>sexual
>assault details because many times the suspect information reads, 
>`could
>have been homeless','' Fricker said.
>
>The partners still make about 20 arrests a month in the homeless 
>corridor,
>the majority of which are for warrants. They also hand out about 50
>citations a month, mostly for trespassing.
>
>Other HELP program innovations Fricker and Stockdale are working on 
>include
>producing a resource card that can be given out to people they meet on
>their rounds. The cards will have the homeless services providers' 
>phone
>numbers and locations on them.
>
>``We run into a lot of people sleeping outside in the dirt only a few
>blocks from a shelter,'' Fricker said. ``Sometimes they get the 
>shelters
>mixed up and don't realize there may be one they haven't been to or 
>that
>some space may have opened up for them.''
>
>END FORWARD
>
>
>
>
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