Tulsa police deal with rise in complaints about homeless in unique way
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- The Tulsa Police Department said they're getting more complaints about the homeless population, so they've come up with a new way to handle that.
They said the tactic is more compassionate and actually addresses the issue.
"Instead of just doing our traditional response, going out and throwing people in jail and a typical warrant sweep, we wanted to do something that might have a lasting change," said Capt. Shelly Seibert with Tulsa PD.
Seibert said they've mapped out several spots around Tulsa to actually meet face-to-face with the homeless population.
"If we can come up with a way that helps them get into services, mental health and substance abuse services, and hopefully housing, then we're looking at a long term plan," said Seibert.
Now, if police do encounter a homeless person with a municipal misdemeanor warrant, then they are handing them blue cards with a court date, so they won't be arrested on the spot, unless the person has a felony or violent offense.
Director for the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma, Beth Svetlic, said this is critical in not just putting a Band-Aid over the problem.
"A lot of the people we encounter have complex challenges that they're trying to tackle in order to overcome their experience with homelessness," said Svetlic.
As police continue to make their way around different encampments and areas around town, they said their goal is to simply make the community better.
Tulsa police started the first-of-its-kind project last Friday, and they plan to wrap up by Nov. 20.