LANCASTER – Homeless people on The BLVD, juvenile delinquency and the “Eye in the Sky” were three of various topics discussed at the “Coffee with a Deputy” meeting Thursday morning.
The informal monthly meetings are organized to create a comfortable atmosphere where community members can meet with deputies from the Lancaster Station to address problems in their neighborhoods.
Thursday’s meeting took place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Lemon Leaf Café on Lancaster Boulevard and was attended by about a dozen residents. Sergeant Theresa Dawson and deputy Miguel Ruiz from Lancaster Station’s Community Relations Department, along with representatives from Lancaster’s Public Safety Office and the Valley Oasis Shelter also attended the meeting.
Much of the meeting focused on law enforcement’s response to panhandling, loitering and soliciting on The BLVD, Dawson said.
The department tries to balance the needs of the city’s homeless population with The BLVD merchants’ ability to do business, Dawson said.
Many homeless people do not know what resources are available to them, but the Sheriff’s department is trying to change this through outreach, Dawson added.
Valley Oasis representative Patricia Rivetti outlined some of the services available at The Homeless Solutions Access Center. The program helps homeless individuals and families with immediate needs, such as showers, laundry, emergency transportation, food and clothing and placement in emergency and transitional housing.
The program also offers long-term assistance in finding housing, learning living skills, and receiving health and mental health treatment to help individuals move to safety and stability off the streets. For more information on this program, call 661-942-2758.
Residents at Thursday’s meeting were also concerned about juveniles roaming the streets unsupervised and possibly getting into trouble, deputy Ruiz said.
Juveniles on the streets during schools hours could be cited for truancy, and youths on the streets between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., without an adult, could be cited for curfew violation, Ruiz said.
He said residents who witness this activity should contact the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station at 661-948-8466, so that deputies could respond and pick up the juveniles.
The meeting also touched on the effectiveness of the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS). Ruiz said LEAPS has been a great benefit to Lancaster Station since its launch in August of 2012.
The system is invaluable as an “information gathering tool,” allowing law enforcement to quickly assess potentially dangerous situations prior to responding on scene, Ruiz said.
The Lancaster Sheriff’s Station is looking into the possibility of hosting an upcoming “Coffee with a Deputy” meeting on the weekend, Ruiz said. The change is being explored to accommodate those residents who cannot attend the weekday meetings because of work.
For more information on the “Coffee with a Deputy” program, contact Deputy Miguel Ruiz at 661-948-8466 ext.4029.