New team of police working with homeless has made progress

A new program that places three officers with the Grand Junction Police Department on the streets solely to work with the homeless already is reaping some benefits, officers reported to the Grand Junction City Council during a workshop Monday.

The three officers, Cory Tomps, Cpl. Jeff Davis and Cindy Cohn, work to connect homeless people with available services that may help them gain sel- sufficiency.

Since the team’s inception two months ago, the Homeless Outreach Team, or HOT, has made contact and collected the data of more than 130 people. That information could include what medications people are using, what services they access and where they live while homeless. Officers have helped gather bus fare for some people stranded in Grand Junction — people who have secured employment or have family waiting in other states.

As homeless people have started to trust the officers, they have informed the police about an arson case, HOT officers said. With help from the homeless, police also have located a suspect in an attempted homicide case.

For the first time, the officers recently were invited to visit homeless people who live in tents near the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers, a place called The Point.

“We are able to look away from the minor violations and giving a hands-up help that they need,” Davis said. “We’re not just putting them in jail to get them off the streets.”

Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper told council members that the project appears to be working. Camper said after the team becomes more acquainted with the homeless and their issues, he may have enough information to propose some suggestions for city ordinances about homeless issues.

In other news, Mesa State College President Tim Foster and John Hopkins asked council members to draft a letter of support for the city to host a stage of the 2012 Quiznos Pro Challenge bike race. Council members said they would submit a letter in support.

Foster and Hopkins, members of a volunteer committee proposing to bring the race to Grand Junction, said they may later ask the city to offer law enforcement and planning services to facilitate the race.


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