There is one less homeless individual today on Manteca’s streets.
And it is thanks to a nearly 3-year-old effort led by Manteca Police to coordinate with agencies and those offering resources in a bid to get the homeless off the street for good while at the same time address law-breaking of what are described as “quality of life crimes” without running afoul of court rulings.
Manteca’s two dedicated officers to homeless issues — Mike Kelly and Stephen Smith — were conducting one of their periodic nighttime enforcement actions on Tuesday. Such efforts specifically addressing issues and complaints of people, homeless or not, entering and remaining in the parks after closing hours. They also address the accumulation — and storage — of property in parks in violation of the Manteca Municipal Code.
Two individuals at Library Park after it was closed to the public were cited as was one found across the street at Wilson Park behind the Post Office. A fourth person — a homeless woman — was arrested for outstanding warrants and being in possession of a suspected controlled substance. That was enough to meet the threshold for arresting and booking an individual into jail.
The two officers were called to a local emergency room after that where staff was trying to get a woman to leave who refused to do so. She had no medical reason to be there.
The woman in question has been homeless in Manteca for over five years. Both officers had previously been in contact with her during daily interactions with the homeless.
On Tuesday evening in the ER room the woman told officers she had finally decided to try to reunite with her daughter in Oregon but had no way to get there.
The officers contacted the daughter who said she was willing to have her mother stay with her. The two officers then contacted community members that have been willing to provide financial help to make such reunions possible. They soon were able to arrange for a bus ticket to Oregon as well as a cab ride to reach the bus terminal.
It is the latest success story of roughly 250 that Manteca Police working with churches, Inner City Action, and other groups have scored since the city committed $250,000 annually three years ago to hiring and supporting police officers specifically to address homeless issues.
The vast majority of people they have gotten off the streets have been placed in detox programs and other endeavors so they can eventually shelter and support themselves. They do have individuals that have relapsed and returned to the streets in a few instances. A fair amount of individuals have been reunited with families after police contact relatives to make sure they were willing to accept the homeless individual into their home. Sometimes the relatives willing to help are clear across the country. That has been made possible by non-profits and individuals that have bank rolled bus, train, and plane tickets.
On Tuesday the department also conducted a cleanup of Wilson Park where the homeless had been illegally storing large amounts of items in recent weeks. Officers tagged the items — as required by law — with notices stating the homeless were storing property illegally in the park and that it would be removed on a specific date. The items that were not removed by the homeless were collected by parks maintenance crews for disposal.
In a press release the department noted “while the primary goal of officers dedicated to homeless issues is to help resource people off of the streets and to direct them toward pathways of self-support and housing, they are also responsible for enforcing the law and continuing to hold people accountable for their behavior with consequences for their unlawful acts.“
“We would again like to ask those who may wish to offer food, clothing, money, or other donations to assist the homeless or those in need, to consider making these gifts and donations through already established charitable or community organizations to ensure they are distributed appropriately and where they can help the most people in need,” the release noted.
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