This police program addresses homelessness differently
A Long Beach, Calif., police program pairing an officer with a mental health clinician finds long-term solutions to reduce vagrancy issues and homelessness
LONG BEACH, Calif. — The Quality of Life Program was founded in 2007 by the Long Beach Police Department in an effort to impact vagrancy-related crimes, reduce the number of calls for service related to the homeless population and seek long term solutions for these issues.
The grant-funded program pairs a police officer and a mental health clinician to help utilize city resources and provide services to those experiencing homelessness, eventually placing them in permanent housing. The team is a liaison to connect homeless individuals to non-government agency services, community support groups, housing resources, transportation and mental health services. The team also provides training to police officers and outside agencies on alternative methods for addressing homeless-related issues.
The program enables police department time and determination to change the story for homeless people.
Police Program Unites a Family After 25 Years
Police Officer Brad Futak and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Psychiatric Technician Tom Kirk received a request from the Long Beach Health Department Multi-Service Center to respond to a person sitting on a bus bench at a busy intersection.
When they met George Milligan, he was sitting on a bench drinking coffee. After they interviewed him, they started to search for family. When they first spoke to a woman named Rebecca in northern California, she said she did not have a family member named George, but she said she lost track of her brother David more than 25 years ago. Futak sent a photo of George to Rebecca, whom she said was her missing brother. The family once hired a private investigator to locate him, but to no avail.
Relatives nearby visited David in the hospital the same day. Doctors placed him on psychiatric medication and he was able to live with family after spending a month in the hospital. David revealed he left home in 1992 because his father wanted to place him on disability income. He did not want government assistance, so he left home and never returned.
It has been well over a year since David was reunited with his family. One year in housing is considered a bench mark with helping people end homelessness. Futak and David’s family still keep in touch. They even send him photos of David and his family out to dinner on special celebrations.
2016 Quality of Life Program program statistics
- Field interviews: 1,306
- Calls for service: 501
- Bus tickets purchased: 39
- Motel rooms purchased: 211
- Rehab/sober living placements/housing: 87
- Shelter placements: 102
- Mental crisis evaluations: 112
- Hospital calls for assistance: 210
- LB Rescue Mission calls for assistance: 125
- Multi-service center calls for assistance: 832
- Clothing/meals: 329
- Mental health aid via “The Village”: 45
- Veterans resources: 24
About the Authors
Abram Yap is a police sergeant with the Long Beach Police Department assigned to the Downtown Entertainment District. He is also assigned to supervise the South Division Quality of Life Detail.
Bradley D. Futak is a police officer with the Long Beach Police Department South Division Quality of Life Unit.