Monday, July 11, 2011

Problem Solving Deputy Tackles Homeless Problem

There’s a great story over at that demonstrates the success a problem solving approach can have towards reducing the community problems that the police often deal with. Hillsborough, FL Deputy Steven Donaldson has been successful in getting homeless people off the streets in his community with his unusual strategy. From the story:
"I'm not trying to be philanthropic," he explains. "I'm solving a problem."

For 15 years as a patrol deputy, he dealt with homeless calls: disturbances, trespassing, public consumption of alcohol. Every arrest required paperwork and a trip to the jail.

But within days, the offender would often be back on the street, doing the same thing — a classic "revolving door," Donaldson says.

"I don't have a particular affection for homeless people," he says. "I have a particular grievance toward wasting my time."

Now, he knows most of the homeless people in the Town 'N Country area by name. He visits them regularly and asks them what they need to get off the street.

He mediates quarrels, pushes them to apply for jobs and fills out Social Security applications for the disabled.
Deputy Donaldson's unique problem solving approach has led to getting 52 homeless people off the streets of his community. The one thing it does require is some "outside of the box" thinking and a Department that is willing to be creative to solve these problems.

What problems does your agency face that could use a creative, problem solving approach?

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