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Cops arrest their way to solutions for the homeless

Government nannies force their help on homeless people who don't want it!

Government nannies search down homeless people who DON'T WANT THEIR HELP and force it on them. Sounds like a big waste of money to me and a jobs program for the government nannies!

Phoenix police and CASS specialists have been crisscrossing downtown Phoenix four nights a week to engage homeless people who have severed connections with service providers.

As with a person who only has a hammer as their tool that persons solution to all problems is use the hammer. Seems like the cops opperate the same way their solution to all problems is to arrest somebody.

Sgt. Sean Connelly said officers "arrest our way to solutions."

Of course when ever the cops arrest one of these homeless people it costs $200 to book the person, and the person is usually out of jail within hours, not a very good solution. But a jobs program for cops and Sheriff Joes goons.

The city pays about $200 to book a person into Maricopa County jail, and anyone facing misdemeanor violations is typically released within hours.


Police, shelter reach out to troubled homeless people

by Lindsey Collom - Jan. 5, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

Cecilia didn't look up.

A man who was with her had slinked away into the darkness, leaving a broken crack pipe and Cecilia alone to answer police and social workers.

She rummaged through a tote filled with papers and other clutter, ignoring the headlights that broke the night and illuminated her campsite of boxes and bags on a central Phoenix roadside.

Homeless-shelter operators, on a regular nighttime sweep of downtown, said they often found Cecilia sleeping on the streets, even though she had an apartment.

"For a long time, we're just kind of thinking she was lonely," said Sean Bonnette, a shelter manager at Central Arizona Shelter Services, Arizona's largest homeless shelter. "She'd just come out here and stash stuff. She wants to sit out here. . . . It's hard to teach someone to not be homeless."

Service providers and Phoenix police have joined forces to attack chronic homelessness by reaching out to those who won't ask for assistance.

A team of Phoenix police and CASS specialists has been crisscrossing downtown Phoenix four nights a week to engage homeless people who have severed connections with service providers and are drowning in mental illness or substance abuse.

The program offers immediate solutions: a place to sleep for the night and next-day detox, mental-health help or other services. Most initially say no. But the more the team interacts with a homeless person on a regular basis, the more accepting he or she becomes.

Police say the team effort is decreasing violent and property crimes in downtown Phoenix while saving taxpayers thousands of dollars in jail booking fees.

Mark Halloran, CASS chief executive officer, said the team reaches out to "the most fragile" of the homeless.

"These are the ones that have lost hope," said Halloran, whose agency offers housing, medical help, mental-health services and job placement. "Our community cannot afford to have people on the street who have given up."

Ben Zachariah, CASS supervisor for adult services, helped develop the street team in 2006. He said most of the 2,800 homeless they've seen have severed connections with service providers, aren't taking medications or are abusing drugs.

Zachariah said part of the problem was the system: Social-service entities worked independently to combat homelessness, but lack of communication led the groups sometimes to duplicate efforts or miss a segment of the population entirely.

"I got frustrated and said, 'I'm going to do something about it,' " Zachariah said.

Part of the program was getting social-service providers to work together toward a common goal. And many homeless are now getting or have received help because the program "brings the office to them," he said.

Cecilia was one of their targets.

On the street, Zachariah bent down to meet her eyes as she sat on a milk crate.

He asked her about the last time she had been to the clinic.

"I've got an appointment on the 29th to get a shot of Risperdal on my side, OK?" she said. "I'm not going until then."

Risperdal is typically used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder. Zachariah said injections of the prescription drug can keep a person mentally stable for weeks at a time.

The problem for social-service providers, however, is keeping tabs on clients who are unlikely to make follow-up appointments. The outreach team tries to overcome that problem by regularly visiting people on the streets.

They can't reach everyone. Zachariah said another client was placed in an apartment but ended up back on the streets after allowing his injections to lapse. No one was monitoring his medicine intake, Zachariah said.

"The more you interact with certain kinds of clients who are mentally ill, you know from experience how much they are deteriorating," he said.

Police said they previously had few options to deal with those loitering or sleeping on the streets.

Sgt. Sean Connelly said officers used to "arrest our way to solutions."

"Under the Seventh Avenue bridge on the railroad tracks, you'd have 100 guys a night: rape, stabbings, just crime and blight," Connelly said. "We put together a two-week program, go in there and arrest the heck out of everybody and be gone for a couple weeks. And a month later, it would be right back where it was."

The method was costly and largely ineffective. The city pays about $200 to book a person into Maricopa County jail, and anyone facing misdemeanor violations is typically released within hours. Booking also keeps police at the jail, leaving fewer officers to patrol streets, he said.

Officers now accompany CASS specialists to provide security. Police presence also encourages homeless parolees to enter treatment rather than go to jail.

Connelly said the outreach effort has helped reduce violent and property crimes in the area from Seventh to 19th avenues and Van Buren Street to Grand Avenue.

Police data show calls for drug crimes in the past two years decreased from 819 to 349; domestic violence from 520 to 331 calls; and calls for armed robbery from 34 to 28.

Similar problems occur in other parts of the city.

"Even though these guys are homeless and don't have a lot of resources, they have the ability to wander the Valley and be involved in crimes," Connelly said. "Sometimes it's four a week. Sometimes it's 20."

The street team says persistence pays off: About 42 percent of the people they encounter agree to enter treatment; 35 percent actually do. The success rate for clients finishing treatment is 23 percent.

Officials say treatment rates may seem low, but it's perceived as a success because the team is reaching a segment of the homeless population once considered unreachable.

"Some of them move elsewhere, find a new spot, and some actually get off the streets," said Michelle Russell, a CASS case manager.

Zachariah said his chat with Cecilia did some good. She showed up the following morning at the CASS Human Services Campus.

Since then, the team helped place Cecilia in a supervised home where she is closely monitored to prevent relapse. For the first time in 14 years, Zachariah said, Cecilia has not returned to the streets.


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