Introduction to Homelessness Issues in the Community

by Officer Steve Vangeli, Pinellas Park PD

The Pinellas Park Police Department, along with the Pinellas County Homeless Coalition, recently conducted a training in conjunction with the Florida Regional Community Policing Institute at the Allstate Center in St. Petersburg. The objective of the class was to invite law enforcement agencies throughout the state to learn a different approach when encountering homelessness in their communities. With the current economic situation the number of homeless in our communities is dramatically increasing. Over sixty law enforcement officers and civilian service providers attended the training.

They were shown the concept of developing a Homeless Outreach Team, pairing a social worker and a law enforcement officer together to assist and place the homeless in their communities. Members of the St. Petersburg Police Department and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Outreach Teams were in attendance and spoke.  The attendees were given valuable resource information from representatives of the Pinellas County Homeless Coalition, the Veterans Administration and the shelters involved in the program. After the class numerous attendees contacted the outreach teams expressing their interest in starting a Homeless Outreach Team in their county with their law enforcement agency.

A recurring theme throughout the training was that this could happen to anyone – single men, single mothers, and now more than ever, entire families.  Our economy is still struggling.  We will continue to see more and more people facing difficulties in their lives.  It is important for us to become educated on the causes of homelessness and what we can do to help.



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