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City effort may borrow from success of Manteca Police’s outreach effort
Lathrop Police Services are working to address homeless issues.

Lathrop Police Services is taking a page out of the City of Manteca’s handbook when it comes to handling the issue of homelessness in the growing community. 

After traditional methods of pushing homeless individuals off of properties and out of areas where they are not welcome have failed to produce the results that law enforcement would have liked, administrators began looking for other options that may prove to be more fruitful at helping get a grasp on what has become a growing concern as the city gets larger. 

And according to Lt. Ryan Biedermann, they didn’t have to look very far for an approach that appears to be working. 

“We’ve always had a good working relationship with the City of Manteca because we’re so close together that we deal with a lot of the same issues and people when it comes to crime,” Biedermann said. “So we’ve always had a good relationship when it comes to enforcement, but now we’re looking at building that when it comes to non-traditional and faceted service because a lot of the straight enforcement isn’t working – it’s not solving the problems that we’re seeing. 

“By taking a more collaborative approach we’re hoping to get better results.”

Earlier this month Lathrop Police Services sent some of their officers out with a task force comprised of local government and non-profit groups out to locations that have become hot-spots for homeless activity – including encampments near industrial properties and along the San Joaquin River. 

By bringing the sorts of services that homeless individuals can use, Biedermann said that officers are able to be more proactive in addressing the issues that lead to chronic homelessness.

Having a neighboring agency that has blazed the trail when it comes to homeless outreach, Biedermann said, has helped the agency figure out what tactics they want to employ now that they have realized that simply running people off isn’t doing anything to prevent them from coming back. 

“Sometimes it’s about helping people get to a shelter, or to let them know that there are mental health services that are available,” Biedermann said. “Sometimes it’s offering them a ride to Manteca where they can take a shower and get some fresh clean clothes – there are churches that offer those services – and then offering them a ride back. 

“What we have been doing doesn’t necessarily take care of the underlying issues, and that’s why we have to look at what other cities are doing and what results they are getting.”

Biedermann said that the agency sat down with one of the City of Manteca’s two Community Resource Officers – positions that were created specifically to deal with the rising numbers of homeless residents and the fallout that has ensued since the city ran afoul of the law by banning people from camping within their city limits – in order to see how they do things and what sorts of things can be brought into their monthly outreach efforts in Lathrop. 

Fine-tuning the effort, he said, will be an ongoing process and will be something that the agency will continue to work on. 

“Even before this became as big of an issue as it has become, we have worked closely with Manteca and are grateful for that relationship,” Biedermann said. “We’re hoping something good comes out of this.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.