Publication Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Ask the officer
Ask the officer
(March 17, 2004)
Menlo Park police officer Glenn J. Raggio answers questions about the police and law enforcement. Call 330-6396, or e-mail: email@example.com.
Q. How do the Menlo Park police handle issues relating to the homeless people who live in Menlo Park?
A. It is part of our patrol duty to monitor the status of the homeless in our town. We strive to make contact with all new homeless people.
As you might have noticed, the population is increasing. We are a city populated with many generous residents, and the word gets around. The homeless population around our markets, for instance, has increased markedly.
We are charged with the responsibility of evaluating these individuals from time to time when we feel they may not be able to care for themselves. We can have them placed on a 72-hour hold if they are harmful to themselves or others, or gravely disabled.
The last of these criteria, as you can imagine, is very subjective. What exactly constitutes "gravely disabled?" Our decisions are often based on visual inspection; "gravely disabled" means this person can no longer care for his or her most basic needs. Perhaps he or she has not eaten, has no visible means to heal a wound, or clearly requires medical attention for other reasons.
Delusional people can often be combative and might require transport; these unfortunate people often must be bound to a stretcher and transported to the county hospital.
Each case must be evaluated separately. There are no easy answers, and our response to this situation changes constantly based on new laws, city codes, and public sentiment.
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