Job Offered at Tyler Police Department Seeks to Help Local Homeless Population | criminality

As a Tyler Police Community Resource Officer, Johnny Green learned about the homeless population and their needs, including mental health and shelter resources, in the northeastern part of town.

He has noticed an increasing number of homeless residents since he started seven or eight years ago in the role of community resource.

Pending approval of the Tyler City Council budget on Wednesday, Officer Johnny Green will be able to fully devote his time as the Homeless Coordinator to helping the entire city’s homeless population find the help that every person might need.

Green said it’s important to build trust between everyone facing homelessness to direct them to services, such as the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission or the Salvation Army.

“Over the years he grew,” said Green. “(I’m trying) to get to know them and spend time with them, and build trust with them.”

Tyler’s Police Chief Jimmy Toler said after noticing that other agencies were devoting resources to the homeless, he wanted the police department to do their part to help each person.

“As we focus on these people, can we help them determine what the root cause is,” Toler said. “Is it a mental illness? Is it an addiction? Is it financial? “

Toler noted that homelessness could mean someone living on the street or under a bridge in a tent, someone living in their car, or people who don’t have a consistent place to stay.

Police officers have been working with people who have lived under the Valentine Street bridge for several years, when there were 20 to 30 tents below, Toler said.

He added that the homeless coordinator’s post is unrelated to the House Bill 1925, which bans camping on public property and went into effect on September 1.

The green encounter with the homeless allowed Toler and others to see that something more could be done to help, Toler said.

He said he had looked at agencies like the Longview Police Department, which has two homeless resource officers, as an example.

Some of the suggested resources could be the Salvation Army and the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission as well as PATH for those in need of financial assistance or the city’s neighborhood services department.

“I think Officer Green becoming the expert in this area will allow him to direct people to these resources,” said Toler. “Some of the successes we’ve had recently has been recruiting people and interviewing them, finding out what’s going on in their lives and getting them to family members who want to help them.”

Toler said mental health, addiction and financial need appear to be the most prominent issues among the homeless population.

Green has done a great job of coordinating with local organizations and shelters, Toler said.

“He will also take the lessons he has learned and take them all over town to work with community resource officers in their primary area of ​​responsibility,” said Toler.

Green said it can take a while for a homeless person to seek help, but he continues to spend time and offer help.

“They might not be ready today; they might not be ready tomorrow. We just keep working on it,” Green said. “I’ve had several that we’ve been working with for months, and the next thing I know, they go into one of the programs. It’s those little things that keep you going. I think it’s worth it. sadness.”

He added that prison is not the solution to help the homeless because the mission is to get them off the streets for good.

City Council will hold its final public hearing on the city’s budget on Wednesday at 9 a.m. at Tyler’s Town Hall, located at 212 N. Bonner Ave. After the hearing, the budget will be voted on for adoption by Tyler’s City Council.

Toler said he hoped for budget approval and that if approved Green would move into the new full-time role in October.

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