Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Police "HOT Team" wins international award

Posted By on Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 5:18 PM

The Colorado Springs Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team was just awarded the Herman Goldstein Award for Problem Oriented Policing. It's a huge honor. A team of our cops just beat out police from around the world for — get this — being progressive about the way they do their jobs.

Cops don't just chase crooks these days. They also get out in the community and try to rip problems out by their roots before they manifest into big crime. The HOT Team members do just that. They connect with the city's homeless, and they try to find these folks homes, programs and resources that will help them better themselves. That way, our street people can make good lives for themselves instead of turning to crime in desperation, apathy or drunkenness.

What the HOT Team does actually works. It was the HOT Team that cleared out the Springs' famously sprawling Tent City. And they did it with compassion.

Officers Brett Iverson, M.J. Thomson and Dan McCormack deserve a round of applause for their hard work.

Our City Council and Police Chief Richard Myers deserve some credit too — for supporting this proactive police work. In hard budget times, it's tempting to cut back on programs like the HOT Team and focus all the funding on cops that bust criminals. But the HOT Team is walking proof that being tough on crime requires more than guns and nightsticks. Sometimes sensitivity and intelligence are the more useful tools in our arsenal.

Here's the full release:

The Colorado Springs Police Department’s (CSPD) Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) learned today that they won the prestigious Center for Problem Oriented Policing Herman Goldstein Award.

Chief R Myers said, “This is a proud day for CSPD and the community of Colorado Springs. It shows what a committed team of police officers can do, while collaborating with many other community resources, to analyze and address significant community problems. We’re particularly pleased that this effort was undertaken at the height of our fiscal crisis, demonstrating that the men and women who work for the City will not be deterred from rising above challenges and doing what is right. I salute all who have contributed to this wonderful achievement, but also point out that the work towards addressing chronic homelessness in our community is far from done.”

The other finalists CSPD competed with are:

• Dayton Police Department (US), Reclaiming the Corner of Chaos
• Houston Police Department (US), Chronic Consumer Stabilization Initiative
• Lancashire Constabulary (UK), Smashing Time - or not
• Merseyside Police Department (UK), Reducing thefts from elderly persons in shopping areas
• South Yorkshire Police (UK), Shiregreen Alliance

The HOT was formed in response to the rising population of the homeless individuals and the increase in problems associated with homelessness in Colorado Springs. The team was formed in June of 2009 to develop a strategy to compassionately address the increasing number of homeless, homeless camps and the myriad of socioeconomic issues surrounding them. The team has developed relationships with many advocacy groups, homeless service providers and has coordinated a citywide response to help the homeless transition to a better life out of the camps. Their efforts also led city leaders to develop and implement an enforceable “No Camping Ordinance.” Due to the efforts of the HOT, not one arrest has been made for the No Camping Ordinance. Instead homeless individuals have been provided information that has helped them get into more permanent housing and programs.

Annually, the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (funded by the US Dept of Justice COPS Office http://www.popcenter.org/ ) awards the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing (http://www.popcenter.org/goldstein_info.cfm ). This award is named after Dr. Herman Goldstein, professor emeritus who first wrote on the concepts of police focusing on problems rather than randomly patrolling.

As the winners of this year’s Herman Goldstein Award the CSPD’s HOT has been identified as a benchmark program internationally, one that other communities struggling with similar issues can study and adapt. This will help cities from around the world more efficiently address homeless concerns. Additionally, the CSPD’s HOT was presented a trophy, certificates for project team members, and vouchers covering registration fees and travel expenses for three people to attend a future Problem Oriented Policing Conference.

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