West Columbia Police Chief Boyce spoke,Tuesday night, along with the Prisma Outreach and WeCo Outreach programs on issues of homelessness and how officials have been acting on them. These professionals are in the field with the unhoused population providing them with access to resources that treat the root causes of their issues.
“The relationships that we have forged by collaborating with these social workers have made for powerful outcomes.,” according to the West Columbia Police Department.
West Columbia City Councilman Mike Green was in attendance and published notes and take-aways from the homeless forum. The video is also online at: Click Here to see it:
Green shared some positive updates on how West Columbia and the police department, with the support of our Mayor, Tem Miles, and the whole city council, are addressing the complex issue of homelessness in the community. We are committed to tackling this challenge with empathy, innovation, and collaboration.
- GIS Program to Document Camps: Our city is actively utilizing our in-house GIS program to identify and document the locations of homeless camps. This strategic approach allows us to understand the extent of the issue and plan targeted interventions.
- Drone and Geo-Fencing Technology: Our police department is employing cutting-edge technology such as drones and cell phone geo-fencing to locate and address homeless camps. This proactive approach enables us to respond swiftly to emerging situations and provide support where it’s needed most.
- Partnership with USC College of Social Work: We have forged a valuable partnership with the USC College of Social Work. Social work students are actively engaging with the homeless population, assessing individual needs, and working towards de-escalating situations. This collaboration has already led to a significant reduction in repeated behaviors, demonstrating the effectiveness of a compassionate and holistic approach.
- Annexation Efforts: Recognizing jurisdictional challenges, we are actively working to annex areas that were previously outside our reach. This ensures that our police department can effectively address issues in all parts of our community, leaving no “donut holes” in our efforts.
- No-Trespass Orders: Property owners are being encouraged to issue blanket no-trespass orders on their large tracts of land. This empowers our police department to take action against trespassers, contributing to a safer community for everyone.
- Responsibility of Property Owners: We are reminding property owners of their responsibility to secure their properties and prevent homeless individuals from occupying them. This collaborative effort fosters a sense of shared responsibility in addressing homelessness.
- Partnership with Prisma Health: We have teamed up with Krystal from Prisma Health, leading a team that actively engages with the homeless population. Their focus is on presenting services and programs that can help individuals transition from homelessness to stable housing.
- Dignified Approach to Encampment Clearing: Before clearing out an area, we communicate with Prisma Health and present the homeless with alternative resources. This ensures that individuals are aware of the available options and have the opportunity to access support services.
Additionally, the community has generated innovative ideas, such as hosting a job fair specifically for homeless individuals and organizing a Thanksgiving Day dinner to build connections and provide resources.
- We understand the importance of treating every individual with dignity and respect. Our goal is to not only address the immediate challenges of homelessness but also to provide pathways for individuals to reintegrate into society, including opportunities for employment.
As your city councilman, I am proud of the positive steps our city and police department, with the support of Mayor Tem Miles and the whole city council, we are taking to address homelessness. We appreciate your ongoing support and collaboration as we work together to make West Columbia a better place for everyone.