Editorial Note:
The COPS Office is pleased to present this special issue of the Community Policing Dispatch dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness. We are very excited to join in these efforts with our partners from U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. We hope that you learn something new and find inspiration in these articles. If you have any comments, feel free to contact us.

20th Anniversary Photo Contest December Winner

The COPS Office is pleased to feature the December 2015 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest – The Lewiston (Maine) Police Department.  Their winning photo features one of Lewiston’s community resource officers, Joseph Philippon, laughing with residents as they play “Cultural Bingo” during a Welcoming Maine Citizenship Celebration.

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Incarceration and Homelessness: Breaking the Cycle

Every year, more than 600,000 people exit the criminal justice system and return to their communities. A significant proportion of them were homeless when they were incarcerated. Many will return to homelessness when they leave jail or prison. And still others may experience homelessness for the first time.

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Law Enforcement is a Critical Component of the Coordinated Effort to End Homelessness

Kevin is a divorced 60-year-old Vietnam War veteran who no longer has contact with his family. After his wife left and he wasn’t able to find work, Kevin started drinking. He has been living on the streets for the last few years. Without a clear system for accessing services, Kevin would be responsible for navigating loosely affiliated programs on his own and might knock on many doors before finding help. Even if he found an organization that would hear his request for help, the best an organization could do would be to determine if Kevin was a good fit for their project, and if not, he’d be back to square one.

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Alternatives to Criminalization: The Role of Law Enforcement

People enter a career in law enforcement for a variety of reasons. Police officers serve the community, uphold the law, and save lives. But what do officers do when the policies in their communities challenge their efforts to improve the quality of life for those they serve?

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Outreach and Engagement: Collaborative Responses to Homelessness

“You can’t arrest your way out of homelessness,” Officer Nathan Schwiethale states with the confidence borne of success in reaching out to and engaging people experiencing homelessness. He is a member of the Wichita (Kansas) Police Department’s (WPD) Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) that received commendation in early 2015 from the Kansas House of Representatives for its dedication to a new approach to ending homelessness.

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Upcoming Resource for Interacting with Homeless Populations

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and the Salt Lake City Police Department will be releasing a toolkit for law enforcement agencies that are interested in developing or improving their outreach with homeless populations in the coming months.

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To read the latest letter and news from Director Davis, please
click here.

Additional Reading