PALMDALE — Lt. Geff Deedrick from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homeless Services Team conducted a brief training session Thursday morning for local deputies, city officials, and local service providers.
The group included Antelope Valley Homeless Coalition partners, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority representatives, and Palmdale Sheriff’s Station Partners Against Crime team members. After the training they ventured out into the community to conduct outreach services.
Being homeless is not a crime, Deedrick said.
“Understanding the different populations that are out there — it’s going to take different ways, different approaches to address it,” Deedrick said.
Deedrick shared statistics and talked tactics in how to address homelessness.
“In today’s climate, with our training and our team, what we’re doing is being partners,” Deedrick said.
The HOST team partners with Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and other service providers.
Deedrick encouraged deputies to serve as the “collaborative breech” for service providers.
“You are Secret Service,” Deedrick said. “You’re there to protect them while they do their job. And if they can help get someone off the streets that benefits you. You’re not getting that call. They’re not going to jail and you move to the next (thing).”
Deedrick also talked about the three stages of homelessness: transitional, episodic, and chronic. Transitional is the first time someone is homeless. That is time is critical for outreach because once somebody gets established with the homeless population it is harder to get them out.
“For our department all it is is you making a phone call, a connection, then their job is to handle it,” Deedrick said, adding that people who experience transitional homelessness are typically low income.
The “episodic” homeless are people who go in and out of homelessness, which is sometimes related to medications or drugs.
The chronically homeless are people who are simply homeless.
“They’re not in and out of homelessness; they are homeless,” Deedrick said. “Those, I would say, are the hardest for outreach to get connected, but it happens.”
Deedrick shared a story about a chronically homeless man who abused heroin for 35 years. The man was homeless for 27 years. He used, got clean and found a home in two weeks.
“That’s the first chronic homeless person I’ve seen get help through our team,” Deedrick said. “But it’s not easy, so for the deputies your obligation is simply to connect.”
The Los Angeles County Homeless Encampment Protocol involves a five-step process to identify a homeless encampment.
“In the past you try to connect with outreach it was hit or miss, everyone has different schedules, now we are one union,” Deedrick said.
Deedrick added they are now one team — law enforcement and service providers.
“It’s proven to be hugely successful,” he said.
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