October 14, 2018 10:24 PM
Instead of removing the homeless population from Metro Transit trains and shelters at night, a new unit in the department is hoping to provide support and resources that could one day help people get off the streets for good.
The Homeless Action Team, or HAT, is made up of two sergeants and four officers within the Metro Transit Police Department.
Their goal is more outreach than enforcement. The unit patrols Metro Transit trains and shelters and stops to check on the homeless they find.
But then, they take it a step further. The team introduces themselves to each individual, they find out what that person needs and then they ask how they can help make it happen.
"It's something we haven't tried," said Howie Padilla, spokesperson for Metro Transit. "You certainly become involved in trying to see if you can make a better life for these individuals."
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The group hit the streets in September and found that 250 to 300 homeless people are riding the train every night.
Officer Katherine Spear said she believes the outreach is working.
"We get on the train and they know us, they know that we're part of the Homeless Action Team," Spear said. "They know us by name, we know them by name."
Spear said the team works with the homeless on various levels: some are just in need of warm clothes, while others struggle to find space in local shelters.
She said she tells each person the same thing when they talk.
"I always say you know, you can stay on our train and stay warm, but we need to get you into shelter," Spear said. "You're deserving of a bed, you're deserving of a pillow, you're deserving of a meal in the morning."
Updated: October 14, 2018 10:24 PM
Created: October 11, 2018 04:31 PM
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