The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is introducing new coaching to higher put together officers to take care of homelessness
PITTSBURGH – To prepare new officials to deal closely with the city’s homeless, Pittsburgh police recruits are now receiving special training to learn about the experiences of displaced people in the city, the services available that can help them, and the impact of public safety recognize action in the homeless community.
The Homelessness Academy is an initiative of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the Office of Community Health & Safety in the office of Mayor Bill Peduto, and the Office of Community Services and Violence Prevention of the Department of Public Safety.
The program is designed to help officials develop skills needed when faced with a situation with the homeless. The program is also designed to provide police recruits with an understanding of the difficulties and trauma displaced persons have experienced that the new officers may not be familiar with.
“This program better prepares recruits to look at social problems with a custodial attitude. It opens their eyes to the reality and humanity of the situation and gives them a better understanding of the most important problems related to homelessness, ”said Police Chief Scott Schubert.
In addition to Mayor Peduto’s efforts to provide greater levels of assistance to first responders interacting with homeless people in need of social services, the city has also partnered with the Allegheny Health Network’s Center for Inclusion Health to help provide community-based outreach teams to support. These teams deliver to meet the needs of residents.
Mayor Peduto and the Homeless Outreach Coordination Committee and Resource Office teamed up last summer to open the Social and Public Health Monitoring Training Academy for community members and emergency workers who often encounter homeless residents in need of help.
“Community members and people who work directly in the community are our experts. It is the responsibility of the Community Health and Safety Agency to support local residents and first responders by ensuring that the services are available, responsive and accessible, ”said OCHS manager Laura Drogowski. “The police and ambulance service are the last safety net. With this training, we want to help officers understand that treating people with dignity, respect and support can change their experience.”
The academy program is taught by Sgt. Colleen Bristow to teach the new recruits in special circumstances faced by residents who have become homeless.
“This is a continuation of the police’s longstanding focus on building bridges to all communities in Pittsburgh,” said Wendell Hissrich, director of public safety.
Bristow worked for the MPOETC (Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission), which oversees police training in Pennsylvania. Law enforcement agencies are required to attend MPOETC training, but can institute additional training, including the Homelessness Academy, which is specifically tailored to the needs of the Pittsburgh area.
“Our goal is to have the best police office in the country with officers who receive unmatched training. I welcome this cross-agency cooperation and the initiative of the police leadership and the academy to offer this important training, ”said Hissrich.
The recruits conducted a survey after training from the Homelessness Academy, which found 28% of them had never had a conversation with a homeless person before. The results also showed that 71% said the program gave them a better understanding of the subject.