Although we can't help all of the homeless, it is important to try to save and help a few.
By Ricky Pierce
As an observer in the ride-along program of the Ormond Beach Police Department, I have learned a lot about homelessness. I have also ridden with the police in Daytona, which has its own share of homeless problems.
Arresting someone, as I have observed, is a very arduous and time-consuming process requiring lots of paperwork and time, with a drop-off at the Volusia County Jail, which is not a pleasant place to visit.
I was exposed to an incident at the same church mentioned in a February article in the Ormond Beach Observer one night last fall, when one of the residents threatened bodily harm to another person living there but had managed to escape before the zone officer arrived. I do not recall anyone suggesting arrest, but it was a very serious situation.
I have been into a homeless camp in the company of the police in the Granada Boulevard area at night and seen conditions that would shock anyone. I recall a young man coming out of the camp with a six-pack of beer in his hands.
I witnessed a homeless man passed out on a sidewalk in the very early morning on the beachside area while his legs were only inches from passing cars. He was taken to the Stewart-Marchman Treatment Center to dry out for the night to be released the next day. I have seen the homeless sleeping on the tops of their cars and attached trailers, sleeping behind businesses at night, passing from our city to another. They are usually told to leave town immediately unless there are enforceable arrest warrants. It is impressive what the police can learn about anyone in a less than a minute with your identification card.
Don't overlook crimes
Based on what I have learned and observed, if a person threatens the life of another, they could be subject to arrest based at the discretion of the police officer. I do not think it helps to treat the homeless any differently when it comes to endangering or threatening someone’s life.
We need more funding, not less
Homelessness may come from uncontrolled situations over the years, or it can even happen overnight. It does not discriminate and can happen to anyone. The problem seems to be getting worse in some places, and I see politicians wanting to cut back when help is needed more than ever today.
Many people in control do not want to know or believe things like this go on, and, as long as they are not in contact with these people, they close their eyes and ears. It seems ironic that in a growing business when you need more money from year to year to keep up with operations, politicians want to cut back on funds needed to run an ever-growing country. Sometimes people can be very selfish and uncaring while they pretend to be just the opposite.
Though it may seem snobbish and uncaring, I think the idea of Safe Harbor is a great idea because these people could learn from and help each other, get the treatment they need, and learn to be more independent and make something of themselves.
Easier said than done
I have no doubt that many of the homeless grow up unwanted, uneducated and without self-respect or a determination to survive on their own. Sometimes, being in contact with people who do not want to deal with them can hurt them.
Homelessness does not discriminate and can happen to anyone.
It seems that there are some community leaders in this area who do not want to face the facts. It is important to try to save and help a few.
I wonder if opening up more churches is really the answer, but it takes dedicated volunteers who want to give the time — and lots of it. It usually falls on a certain few who end doing all the work and it takes a toll on their lives. Unfortunately, a lot of these churches are in close proximity to homes and could raise even more problems and work for the police, themselves. These things are easier said than done.
Ricky Pierce is a resident of Ormond Beach.