WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Walnut Creek this summer launched a new homeless patrol comprised of two police officers dedicated to following up on calls about transients. So far it's working, and other communities are looking to try something similar.
It all comes down to communication. Officers get to know the homeless by name, understanding their backstory to get them into the services and programs they need.
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On a ride-along, ABC7 news captured an arrest for possessing 10 grams of meth. Enough for 100 hits. It was in the possession of a homeless man living along the creek adjacent to Broadway Plaza shopping center-- he was arrested.
Officers connected with 66-year-old Wayne Malmgren who was once a guitarist. He was near the Whole Foods store in Walnut Creek with his wheelchair and several signs asking for assistance. Since his stroke, he has been homeless in Walnut Creek for a year.
Officer Domenick Clemente approached Wayne saying, "Hey Wayne-- you know the last time we spoke to you you were doing pretty well and you said you were waiting for housing so I want to find out how we can move this forward."
Malmgren said the officer's lookout for him.
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"They make sure I don't screw up, which I can do. And trying to get me help."
Officer Clemente said, "Wayne knows he's doing really well. We're really proud of him. We're no longer getting six calls a day of a male drunk in the middle of the day lying in a crosswalk. "
Officers said 60 percent of the calls coming into Walnut Creek police are now about transients. Recently they moved out a camp on Jones Road wedged between the BART tracks and 680. There is a lot of garbage left behind that can cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean up.
Officer Gary Silva on the homeless patrol said, "The last individual I talk to on main street was from Pacheco. I said what are you doing here? He said I'm here to make money. I said how much did you make? He said $80. I said how long have you been here? He said 20 minutes. I said why did you come to Walnut Creek? He said because I can make more money here. I mean what do you say to that?"
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The police here say giving money can fuel drug addiction, that it's better to donate to agencies that can help the homeless like Trinity Center.
One officer said if they hold up a sign saying "anything will help" in this affluent community, they can make $40 an hour. At the holidays perhaps $100 an hour.
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Homeless patrol making a difference in Walnut Creek
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