ESTABLISHED UNDER MAYOR FAULCONER & CHIEF NISLEIT, NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING PLAYS INTEGRAL ROLE IN CITY’S HOMELESSNESS RESPONSE
SAN DIEGO – Two years after creating a dedicated division within the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) to improve quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the city, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and Police Chief David Nisleit today joined community leaders to highlight the integral role SDPD’s Neighborhood Policing Division has played in the region’s success in reducing homelessness each of the past two years.
“The balanced and compassionate approach we’ve taken to responding to the homeless crisis is why San Diego is the only region in California to see homeless numbers go down two years in a row,” Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. “We continue to lead the way with innovative solutions like our Neighborhood Policing model that is helping to connect hundreds of people with the treatment or services they need to get off the streets for good. We’re cleaning up our communities and restoring neighborhood pride while we improve quality of life with every life we change.”
The Neighborhood Policing Division was established to centralize efforts in responding to community concerns related to homelessness. The structure now includes Homeless Outreach Teams (HOT), Neighborhood Policing Teams, and Crime Prevention Teams, along with Investigations, under one chain of command with trained personnel to connect homeless individuals with resources available.
“Simply put, the Neighborhood Policing Division is community policing at its finest and exactly the type of collaboration between our department and the community that we strive for,” Chief Nisleit said. “The improvements we’ve made to this division over time align outreach and community response in a way that keeps our neighborhoods safe, our residents healthy and reduces the possibility for crime across our city.”
Since its creation in March 2018, NPD has continually worked to adapt its approach to assist those experiencing homelessness. Enhancements include developing a progressive enforcement model that offers services and education at every encounter; establishing programs to incentivize individuals to accept services and connect them to resources for longer-term stability; and working to improve reporting and response efforts to community complaints related to homeless encampments.
The division has furthered SDPD’s goal of community-oriented policing and worked with specific communities to address health, safety and quality of life-related issues that arise from homelessness. At an area near Euclid and Imperial avenues in southeastern San Diego, NPD worked with community members to provide a concentrated outreach effort to improve safety and quickly address quality-of-life issues.
“The crime and safety issues associated with the homeless encampments in our community had many neighbors and I concerned. After writing letters, speaking at Council meetings and coalescing together for months, we finally have resolve,” said Andrea Hetheru, Founder of the Southeast Neighbors Together Coalition. “I have never in my lifetime seen such a great response from our police department to provide a consistent effort that has held and restored our quality of life, and in a compassionate way.”
The Homeless Outreach Team facilitates weekly coordinated outreach events to bring together services in one location and connect individuals on the streets to help. The collaborative events include HOT team members, mental and medical health professionals provided by the County of San Diego, members of the Downtown San Diego Partnership’s Family Reunification Program, and the following service providers: Alpha Project of San Diego, Father Joe’s Villages and Veteran’s Village of San Diego, Mental Health Systems.
HOT teams play an integral role in connecting individuals to the City’s many shelters. Since the launch of Operation Shelter to Home at the San Diego Convention Center, HOT teams have facilitated more than 1,700 drop-offs at the shelter, accounting for nearly half of total drop-offs.
NPD receives reports from the City’s Get It Done mobile app related to homelessness throughout the City. Since late 2018, the team has received more than 27,400 reports through the app, including over 15,000 this year alone. Earlier this year, the City began pairing Clean SD crews directly with NPD teams to offer services to individuals experiencing homelessness at encampments and quickly address the remaining trash in the area when responding to Get It Done reports.
The establishment of the Neighborhood Policing Division is just one of many public safety investments Mayor Faulconer has made during his time in office. Other investments include:
- Becoming the first city in state to ban the use of carotid restraint in police de-escalation techniques that later paved the way to California banning its use by agencies statewide
- Negotiated a landmark compensation package to make SDPD salaries more competitive among compared to other law enforcement agencies
- Launched an aggressive marketing campaign to attract the best and brightest to SDPD
- Implemented body-worn cameras for all officers – one of the first major U.S. cities to make that commitment
NPD’s history and progress can be found in the SDPD Neighborhood Policing Division Overview.