"We deal with the same people day after day,” Eureka Police Officer Drake Goodale said “Today alone we arrested one homeless guy twice already, once for burglary and the other for drunk in public"
For Officer Goodale, this is a typical day.
"The majority of our calls for service each and every day are related to the homeless in one way or another," Officer Goodale said.
While he wears a uniform and responds to calls like every other officer, his job is much different. He's assigned the Old Town beat and his goal is to get people who are living on the streets, into housing.
"We just have a list of people,” Officer Goodale said. “We go talk to them, we offer them rides, we offer them all the assistance, we offer to do the paperwork with them. Basically they just have to be willing to do it."
"We," being his partner Pamlyn Millsap. She's the homeless liaison with Eureka PD— has been since March 2011. The hardest part of her job:
"The kids,” Millsap said. “Right now EPD is bending over backward to help a lot of the families try to transition the kids off the street, because we're aware that those kids are going to have more problems."
Before her time with EPD, she spent almost twenty years with the Department of Health and Human Services. She worked in Mental Health focusing on the homeless community.
"What homeless people can benefit from is more treatment options for substance abuse issues,” Millsap said. “The majority of people on the streets have substance abuse issues."
Millsap adds that those problems often stem from untreated mental health issues. Her job is to go after those people and try to get them to accept services. She said they would do almost anything to help. She’s even offered to pay rent.
"I think you need options,” Millsap said. “I don't think there's one issue. I don't believe that you can create a campground that homeless people can go in, I don't think it's going to resolve the issue.”
Millsap said they’ve linked dozens of people to services to get them in housing. One of their success stories:
“There was an individual that had approximately 300 calls per year for law enforcement response and he's been hit by cars multiple times,” Millsap said. “He's currently in housing."
She said that was the doing of Officer Goodale.
"Been doing this for twenty years now and we don't get thanked very often at all,” Officer Goodale said. “It's very self gratifying to get somebody off the street. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does…"
Should the Humboldt County Correctional Facility provide more re-entry fairs for prisoners?