LPD Homeless Outreach Team working in the community

LPD Homeless Outreach Team working in the community

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Lubbock Police Department officers bridging a much needed gap to those many overlook.

"I got told today it's nice to be treated different than they normally are, we don't talk to them any different manner, but we do we show them that we are really  trying to help them," Lubbock Police Officer Tony Chacon said. 

They're H.O.T or LPD's Homeless Outreach Team, which was started nearly two years ago.

"Our first couple contacts that we had at Open Door for example our day shelter, we showed up there and there wasn't a lot of interaction between us and that community and after a few months of building the rapport and relationships, that changed," Lubbock Police Sgt. Steven Bergen said.

Now when HOT pulls up, "they are calling us out by name and aye what are you doing, who you looking for you know," Chacon said. "Sometimes we don't even do anything, we just go up to just have a conversation with them and it's like they are waiting for us to come by just so they can say hi and that's all because of something we did previously to help them out."

The help comes in many different forms.

"Giving someone a bicycle is really cool, because they come here and their expectations are not that high and granted some of our bicycles are in not that good of shape, but we do a lot of work on them and we help improve them," Chacon said. "So when they get something and they are able to move on it, it totally changes their aspect."

With help from the community, HOT has given away more than 40 bikes, in just a year and a half. 

"If you think about it that's 40 people that have jobs, that didn't have jobs before and are able to go back and forth to them," Chacon said.

Their help goes beyond Lubbock streets. 

"Our bus program, we reunite folks with family or friends," Bergen said. "There is kinda some criteria they have to meet before we can actually send them somewhere, they can't have any active cases or warrants with us or in the area and they actually have a place to stay, so we don't send people away to be homeless somewhere else."

45 people and counting have benefited from the bus and housing programs. 

"There is a cost associated with individuals who are homeless especially chronically homeless, they can cost anywhere up to $40,000 a community, a year," Bergen said. "So housing is a desperate need for these folks, get them into housing, get them jobs, get them back on their feet."

It's program with a lasting legacy, not only within the police department's walls, but in our city by HOT helping put a face and name to those we tend to forget. 

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