The U.S. Department of Justice recently awarded the City of Santa Rosa a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) microgrant of $101,904 to enhance homeless outreach efforts through the creation of a Homeless Outreach Team within the Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD). Participating SRPD officers will receive training on homeless outreach best practices and de-escalation techniques, and conduct outreach assessments to identify individuals and families within our unhoused community needing support. Because of the many opportunities police officers have to contact members of the unhoused community, training officers in outreach and engagement best practices will further the City of Santa Rosa’s efforts to offer housing and support services and address the issues and causes of homelessness.
“As Chief of Police, a top organizational priority of mine is to reduce the impacts of homelessness through proactive, coordinated care,” states John Cregan, Chief of Police, Santa Rosa Police Department. “The funding provided through this microgrant will allow for more of our officers to receive the training and resources necessary to assist the most vulnerable members of our community obtain the services and continued care they need.”
The funding will also allow SRPD to partner with trusted existing organizations, such as Catholic Charities, to enhance already established procedures and partnerships in addressing homeless-related issues. SRPD and partner organizations will conduct joint operations twice a month for the next 11 months. The operations are designed to provide a comprehensive approach to outreach services and build trust with homeless individuals and families. In conjunction with our partner organizations, the SRPD Homeless Outreach Team will provide ongoing outreach and support services to promote successful transitions to stable housing and ongoing support services. The team will focus their initial efforts downtown, with operations expanding city-wide soon.
“The Santa Rosa Police Department has always worked diligently to provide outreach services to the homeless community in our city,” explains Jennielynn Holmes, Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. “This microgrant provides crucial financial support to the Santa Rosa Police Department's homeless outreach efforts, allowing them to provide more comprehensive services to those in need.”
Throughout 2024, SRPD will evaluate the program outcomes, highlighting successes and lessons learned for potential future programs. The Santa Rosa Police Department is thankful for the ongoing training, outreach, and engagement opportunities afforded to us by the U.S. Department of Justice and for the support we received from our federal elected officials, City Council, Catholic Charities, and multiple City of Santa Rosa departments during the application process.