On January 28, Rialto Police Department (RPD) held an Addressing Homelessness Forum presented by the Community Services Bureau.
RPD Captain Anthony Vega led the virtual forum and announced the department made 1,252 encounters with the city’s 156 identified homeless population.
“There are many things we can do as a community to address homelessness and assist those in need. This population needs services and they’re often forgotten about,” said Vega.
In early 2020, RPD developed the Quality of Life Task Force where they found success in identifying individuals in the city who do not have shelter and began working with businesses on how to deal with encampments on their property.
“We have a tremendous amount of data that we were able to identify a need and we approached city council. We gained council’s approval on a $600,000 homeless emergency aid grant that was already awarded to the city and they approved to move the grant under the police department. With this grant we partnered with Social Work Action Group (SWAG),” continued Vega.
The city’s Quality of Life Task Force assisted the police department in identifying homeless individuals and found 268 encampments located in the city.
“Once our Quality of Life program collected the data, we began having SWAG target those specific issues. SWAG coordinated the cleanup of 109 encampments and the removal of 49 tons of debris.
To date, SWAG has assisted the city with the following:
- Providing services to 156 homeless
- Connecting 71 homeless to medical and mental health services
- Connecting 33 homeless veterans to VA services
- Placing 45 homeless in long-term treatment programs
Another finding the police department has garnered through research and fieldwork is that none of Rialto’s neighboring cities or agencies have a cohesive method of addressing homelessness.
“Homelessness is a complex issue that affects every community nationwide, it’s not something that can be resolved overnight. I began conducting research and I gained permission from my sergeant to visit different agencies and social services to gain an idea of how they’re addressing homelessness. What I found threw me for a spin, because everyone has a different solution to homelessness; there was no consistent program,” said Corporal Dwuan Rice, Rialto Police Department.
For more information, visit rialtopolice.com.
By Sonny Michaels