The Homeless Issue and Our Community, What We Can Do
Last night we had Lt. Lara come speak to our community about the new Neighborhood Policing Division. With a law background and many years of service with the police department and within our community, he was a wealth of information on what our rights are as a community and the rights of the homeless. Homelessness is a complex issue and there are a number of reasons people are homeless. Homelessness has also become a growing problem in our city and our community for a number of reasons. We have to balance the rights of people who have fallen on hard times versus the rights of people who want to live in a safe, clean community.
That said, after this meeting, the community got a clearer idea of how the police can help when there is a homeless issue in our community. There are three different numbers one can call.
- Lt. Lara said if there is someone with a knife, a weapon in the neighborhood and you feel that your life currently is in danger, then please call 911.
- If you do not feel you are in immediate danger, but there is for example, someone who is sleeping on the same corner every night, they appear to not be able to take care of themselves, are mentally ill and making threats, are openly doing drugs or alcohol or urinating or defecating out in the open, you can call the non-emergency line: (619)531-2000.
Lt. Lara also said that the Get It Done website and/or app is a good way to send notification to the Neighborhood Policing Division because you have the option of sending a picture (only take one if it is safe to do so and discreetly) and that really helps his department see the problem and know who to look for.
3. The third number is the H.O.T. team’s number: (619)446-1010. This is the Homeless Outreach Team. They are uniquely designed to be able to go out and offer resources to the Homeless–shelter, drug or alcohol treatment programs, help with obtaining ID or Social Security Benefits, etc. Lt. Lara said there is plenty of help out there for those willing to accept it.
So, this is what the police can do. They are only one facet of help available out there. We, as a community can also help, by utilizing these resources rather than contributing to the problem by giving someone money directly. While it may feel good in the moment, unfortunately many people may not use this money in the most beneficial way and it does not help them. We can also be vigilant about protecting our community and the safe lifestyle we enjoy here.