Police Homeless Outreach Team Working To Get People Off The Streets, Into Shelters

Wednesday, August 7th 2019, 8:28 am
By: Ashley Holden

 The Homeless Outreach Team is working to get over one thousand homeless people help and off the street. 

Most recently one area of focus has been the camps just off of Northwest Expressway near Penn Square Mall.

The two officers a part of this focused unit said they have been visiting the people they found under the overpasses and even in storm drains. The areas were covered in debris, trash, water, bugs and dirt. 

"Its all a safety hazard, and also we just want to get these people off the street and get them help," member of the unit, Msgt. Phil Paz.

The police department found these camps through complaints from people riding their bikes or walking near the overpass.  

If the team finds a camp that's occupied, they try to connect those staying there with resources, and hopefully find a way to get them into a shelter. Sometimes Msgt. Paz said it's hard to hear that people don't want to utilize the help the police and the city offer. 

"Some people want to be out here," said Msgt. Paz. "There's an aspect of mental health issues, there's also people that have been in financial crisis."

He told News 9 sometimes people also just want the freedom they can sometimes find when living on the streets. 

The HOT team continues to try and reach out to people and hope that residents can help report any homeless camps they see. 

Msgt. Paz said people can simply call 911 to report anything, or OKC residents can also fill out an action center request.