SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The stabbing of a San Francisco police officer at the San Francisco International Airport by a transient adds to the airport's concerns over a growing homeless population there.
"Luckily we had an officer there who intervened before anyone else was hurt," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said. He thanks the officer for his courage in fighting off his attacker who was armed with a knife at a baggage carrousel Tuesday afternoon.
The officer, who asked that his name not be used, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital after being slashed and stabbed numerous times.
With the help of other cops, TSA agents and a civilian, the officer was able to arrest 64 year old Dooris Johnston.
Sources say he was a transient hanging around the airport.
As with the city, SFO has encountered a growing number of homeless people.
"On the average, we see about a dozen homeless people per day at the airport where we're making contact with," SFO Spokesman Doug Yakel said.
Many come on the last BART train at 1 a.m.
The airport is a safe, warm place to spend the night.
SFPD Deputy Chief Denise Schmitt says they're often greeted by officers at the platform.
"We do meet the last BART train in and there's very little reason to be at the airport unless you're a ticketed passenger," Schmitt said.
They're offered several options, including free bus rides to San Francisco or the South Bay.
"We use SamTrans tokens to get them on this public transportation," Yakel said.
Airport officers can also transport them to a homeless shelter in San Mateo.
"We work with San Mateo County Mental Health to get them to a facility or referral for jobs, whatever they can do," said Schmitt.
Airport officials and police have established a working group with mental health agencies on the peninsula.
They hope by the end of the year to have advocates working full time here at SFO to offer direct help to the homeless.