Homelessness is an extremely complex social problem that impacts the quality of life in our community and others across the country. There are no easy solutions, as the causes of homelessness are multifaceted and frequently outside the control of government agencies.
But the Police Department does have a role in dealing with people, including the homeless, when their activities are unlawful or otherwise impact the health and safety of the community. The following information is provided to assist business people and individual community members in properly addressing incidents and concerns regarding the homeless and related quality of life issues while ensuring that the rights of all individuals are protected, regardless of economic or social status.
Homeless people seek the same essentials as everyone else. The most important of these are water, food, shelter, clothing, and a source of income. Locations that provide easy access to these basics will attract homeless persons.
Multi-Disciplinary Outreach Team (MDOT) Virtually every day, Monterey Police Officers come in contact with a wide range of people from all walks of life and many different backgrounds. Some of these people find themselves living on the fringes of our society. They have been referred to as homeless, transients, travelers, the displaced, and many other names. The Monterey Police Department recognizes these daily contacts allow officers to be a conduit for help with the ultimate goal of both short term assistance and long term re-entry back to a productive member of society. The Monterey Police Department seeks to achieve these goals by actively participating in several programs; one particularly noteworthy is MDOT.
The Multi-Disciplinary Outreach Team (MDOT) was created in late 2018 as a collaborative approach to providing broad expertise to address prevalent issues affecting the community, including homelessness, quality of life complaints, domestic violence, substance abuse, and associated chronic health life-style issues. These collaborations have developed strong connections that have resulted in team problem solving efforts that include input and ideas to creative and long-lasting solutions. The Monterey Police Department partnered with several key local agencies to help provide services to the homeless. The MDOT team consists of:
Monterey Police Department
Adult Protective Services
Monterey County Behavioral Health
Montage Health / Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (CHOMP)
Young Women’s Christian Association (Domestic Violence)
Each of these organizations assigns a social worker to MDOT and they each have a desk at the Monterey Police Department. Monterey Police Officers are now able to have direct contact to social workers when the need arises. This team performs direct outreach and intervention efforts with the goal of establishing a relationship with homeless individuals and assisting them with accessing benefits and housing. MDOT provides a social work function, offering homeless individuals a connection to local community service programs, health care, mental health services, and housing. The team has the time and ability to assist clients with procuring necessary documents to obtain certain services, such as identification cards, birth certificates, Social Security income, and disability income. MDOT works in conjunction with law enforcement to provide the City of Monterey with a long-term relationship with our community partners and other government agencies that law enforcement may not be aware of. Suggestions for Avoiding Problems Being homeless is not a crime. A person’s actions are far more relevant than their appearance or station in life. However, do not hesitate to summon the police if a crime has occurred or when a person behaves in a threatening manner, whether the person is homeless or not. The following City of Monterey Municipal Codes may be used by the Police Department to deal with a variety of situations. When violations of these codes are observed, they should be promptly reported to the Police Department.
Do use caution in dealing with any strangers regardless of their appearance.
Avoid confrontation and maintain your distance from strangers.
Do not offer food or money.
Do not permit anyone to camp or loiter on your property. If unauthorized camping or loitering is occurring on your property, contact the Police Department and ask to sign an authorization for trespassers to be arrested.
Do not allow anyone to store shopping carts, bedding, or personal belongings on your property.
Restrict access to overhangs, alcoves or other areas protected from inclement weather.
Lock or remove handles from water spigots to discourage unauthorized use.
Lock your garbage receptacles.
Lock or turn off exterior power outlets.
Lock gates after hours.
Install exterior lighting and utilize motion activated fixtures after hours.
Trim back landscaping and foliage to eliminate hiding places.
Clean up garbage and waste.
Report graffiti and other vandalism to the police, and clean up promptly after the officer has concluded their investigation.
Do not allow food and beverage deliveries to sit out unattended.