Roughly two years after the San Diego Police Department's Neighborhood Policing Division was established, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, SDPD Chief David Nisleit and several community leaders came together Tuesday to highlight the progress they've made in addressing the city's homeless issues.
"We continue to lead the way with innovative solutions like our Neighborhood Policing model that is helping to connect hundreds of people with the treatment or services they need to get off the streets for good," Faulconer said.
The NPD includes Homeless Outreach Teams, Neighborhood Policing Teams and Crime Prevention Teams, along with Investigations.
Lt. Brian Avera oversees the 10 officers who make up the Homeless Outreach Teams.
Avera told NBC 7 those officers were hand-picked from other parts of the department because of their passion for this type of work and said they have helped to facilitate nearly half (1,700) of the total dropoffs at the San Diego Convention Center as part of Operation Shelter to Home.
"It may take 10, 15, 20, 50 times for someone to accept help, but they do it, and when you hear those stories, they will hit your heartstrings," Avera said.
The city said the division has also responded to thousands of reports related to homelessness through its Get It Done app.
Andrea Hetheru, founder of the Southeast Neighbors Together Coalition, said the Neighborhood Policing Division has really helped to improve the crime and safety issues associated with homeless encampments in Southeast San Diego.
'I have never in my lifetime seen such a great response from our police department to provide a consistent effort that has held and restored our pre-encampment quality of life and done so in a compassionate way," Hetheru said.
On Wednesday, the head of the Neighborhood Policing Division will update the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee on the division's efforts over the last two years.