SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A homeless outreach program created by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is serving as a model to other law enforcement agencies across the country.
The Homeless Outreach and Proactive Enforcement or “HOPE” team was created in 2014. It links the homeless population with resources and service providers throughout the county.
The team uses a 100% non-confrontational approach. Instead of making arrests, the deputies use care and compassion and make connections. They help the homeless get access to services like housing, mental health, veterans and job assistance, and medical attention.
One of the most difficult challenges is the size of the county. At more than 20-thousand square miles, San Bernardino County is the largest in the country.
There are just four deputies on the HOPE team. So far, they’ve documented more than 8,000 contacts since the beginning of the program. This year, they reached a huge milestone with its two-thousandth person housed in a permanent home.
The department hopes to expand the program.