Colorado

Oct 1, 2009 10:55 PM by Matt Stafford

From confrontation to cooperation

Colorado Springs is seeing change in handling homelessness.

A homeless man, known to friends as "Tools" says, "They use to give tickets for trespassing and all this other stuff and it's a big change.  It's a change for the homeless and I'm happy about it."

Patrolman Dan McCormack with the Colorado Springs Police Department agrees, they've seen change, "Most of them will be very receptive. They sit there and they kind of hang out.  A lot of them we're finding now will help bag up stuff, grab them and help go load up the truck."  McCormack says, "In the past that wouldn't happen."

"Tools" and many others are seeing the benefits of a better relationship with law enforcement and support organizations.  The help of many local groups comes in handy.

Dee Cunningham and her organization, Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful, are heading the clean up effort.  In response to her partnership with the police department she says, "The homeless outreach team has created partnership with all of us that is growing and is becoming stronger so we're much more effective a helping people that way."

It's a stronger network, bringing out better results.

Tools" gets to see this network in action and feels it helps him in many ways.  Specifically he says, "Its for the better because it actually gives us more of an opportunity to prove that we're actually not really bad people."

Patrolman McCormack feels the department is making head way in an area that has taken them a long time to achieve it.  He says, "When you finally start breaking down some of those barriers and let them know I'm (McCormack) not here to mess with you.  You're drinking a beer in your camp. I'm not here to mess with you over that.  I'm here to find a permanent solution for you so you're not out here having to drink that beer.  They start knowing the faces and start knowing who they can go to."

     It's the change in approach, the use of compassion, that's making these clean ups more effective and well received.

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