San Diego ARC Teams with Police


TEAMWORK– (l-r) Police officers Scott McCellan and Art Doherty with Major Doug Williams, Dr. Edward Lataille and ARC’s Homeless Outreach team member David Nyquist.

by Marlene Gerber – 

The San Diego Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) has teamed up with the police to help the homeless get off the streets.

Responding to a call from members of the San Diego police force to help them deal with people living on the streets, Dr. Edward Lataille, director of rehabilitation services, assigned an experienced substance abuse intake coordinator, David Nyquist, to ride along with the police, detox and mental health workers each Tuesday as they go out into the streets offering immediate assistance to those in need, as part of a homeless outreach team.

Police officers have long been frustrated with their efforts to be more effective in responding to business people’s complaints about the homeless campers. They also want to make a difference in this troubling social problem, so they decided to try a new approach. They first called the ARC and then other community organizations with proven track records in dealing with substance abuse and mental illness, which they concluded afflicts the majority of homeless street people.

Assessments are made on the spot by the knowledgeable people who ride along in police cars, determining appropriate referrals for those willing to accept offers of help. The best part of this effort is that people are transported immediately to a place for help, bypassing waiting for an appointment or dealing with procrastination. Last week, a man who was found living under a bridge is now in the ARC rehab program and is on the way to recovery.

“This team does an outstanding job of working together,” says Sgt. Art Doherty, project coordinator. “It’s a great example of community policing, offering these folks options other than prison when it’s appropriate. The alternatives are less costly than jail, and rehabilitation is more likely to return people to productive lives. “We are grateful for The Salvation Army and other community organizations for the valuable resources they provide,” he added.

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