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Crisis and Homeless Intervention Strategies: Paths to Progress and Understanding

The National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum hosted a free virtual panel discussion, Crisis and Homeless Intervention Strategies: Paths to Progress and Understanding, which took a look at law enforcement’s role in crisis and homeless intervention.

This free panel discussion was hosted in conjunction with Safer Streets, a week dedicated to addressing issues of homelessness through action, awareness, and support.

“As an institution founded in our nation’s capital it is our responsibility to fulfill our mission locally as well as nationally,” said National Law Enforcement Museum Executive Director Thomas Canavan. “We cannot begin to address issues that our country faces without playing a role in our own backyard.”

The coronavirus pandemic exposed the depth and severity of the nation’s homelessness crisis. As first responders, law enforcement officers are frequently dispatched to address situations involving homelessness-related health emergencies or public safety challenges.

Lack of access to regular care for mental and physical health conditions and substance use disorders among people who are homeless can lead to frequent 911 calls and law enforcements interactions. Left with few options but to arrest, disperse, or issue a citation, many officers experience frustration at what amounts to a revolving door between homelessness and the criminal justice system—a cycle that disproportionately affects people of color.

Collaboration between law enforcement and community homelessness services is needed to better address the core issues at hand. This panel is intended to support these collaborative efforts to better understand unsheltered homelessness, while reducing related contact with the criminal justice system.

Moderated by Habsi Kaba, Director of Crisis Intervention Teams, Miami-Dade County (FL) and Police Mental Health Collaboration, this engaging panel discussion featured leaders in the law enforcement, mental health and community.

Resources:

Featuring:

  • Sergeant Aaron Dahl, Vacaville (CA) Police Department
  • Eric Weaver, Executive Director /Lead Instructor for Mental Health and Homeless Intervention, a 20-year veteran of Rochester Police Department and founder of their CIT program.
  • Borinquen (Bo) Hall, Homeless Liaison Specialist, Miami Beach (FL) Police Department Homeless Resource Unit
  • Michael L. Ferrell, Executive Director, The Coalition for the Homeless, Washington, DC