Sparks Police Department introduces H.O.P.E Team to support area homeless

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 11:56 PM PDT
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From Sparks Police:

The Sparks Police Department recently assigned three full-time officers to the new Homeless Outreach Proactive Engagement, H.O.P.E., Team.

The main goal of the H.O.P.E team is to offer services and assist those experiencing homelessness. We work with various organizations and charities to help those in need with such things as affordable housing, shelter space, food, clothing and obtaining identification and social security cards.

The new H.O.P.E Team will further advance initiatives already in place to make the river path along the Truckee River a safe environment for everyone to enjoy.

In 2016, the City began receiving many calls for service and reports of hundreds of camps and yards of trash and debris along the Truckee River path. The City responded by cleaning up the path and offering services to those camping illegally. For the past several years, the City has continued this outreach approach part-time but has found it increasing difficult to keep up with the demand.

Having full-time officers dedicated to this important initiative is a positive approach. Our H.O.P.E officers create a repour and provide empathy, support and resources to those experiencing homelessness.

For safety, the City has ordinances in place making it illegal to camp within 350 feet of the river. We can and do enforce these ordinances, However, engagement and education is always our first approach.

From KOLO8:

Officer Damon O’Connell talked about the new H.O.P.E team, saying it was a needed addition to the Sparks Police Department.

“This is something the department and our city felt was important. This needed to happen.”

O’Connell says the officers making up the H.O.P.E team applied for the jobs and were not assigned.

”They’re going to be a little more empathetic because that’s their full-time job. They’re getting to know these people on a first name basis when they’re patrolling the river or wherever it is they may be.”

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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