You hear Sgt. Steve Wick tell you the main problem with most young police officers just 20 seconds into the video above, “A young officer will get out there and wants to do nothing but make arrests, and you know, run code to calls and do the adrenaline.”
But Wick has done all that and he realizes there are more important roles for a police officer to take on. The Houston Police Department’s mental health division was formed in 2007, and the small unit works to build a relationship with the homeless community. Instead of treating them like criminals, they treat them with respect and work with shelters and organizations in the area to get them the help they need.
Wick is the leader of the Homeless Outreach Team, which is made up of just four officers, three of those being mental health case workers. They respond to complaints associated with people living on the streets while working constantly on trying to get those people off the streets and into a safe environment.
It might be too early to tell if this will truly cut down the amount of complaints associated with the homeless; however, that would honestly just be an added bonus. Most important, the unit has helped place more than 400 people in temporary or permanent housing since they started back in 2007.
There are other police departments in the country with similar units, but still…there should be a lot more. Sadly, it’s just not as ~sexy~ as throwing a criminal down on the ground, digging your knee into their back and making that arrest in front of a crowd full of adoring citizens.
Screengrab via: Youtube