Sgt. Gary Robertson, who heads the unit, said he asked police Chief Mary Barton to create the homeless outreach job when he noted the number of calls the county received relating to the homeless.
“We might get a call for service that somebody who looks homeless is panhandling, somebody homeless is living in a park or public area, and we get requests to check on them,” Robertson said. “Why wouldn’t I pitch to our chief of police and board and say, ‘We receive X amount of calls for service monthly (about) homeless individuals in crisis, why not have for the first time a designated homeless outreach officer whose job it is to just build that relationship and that trust?’”
Crees connects people with resources for housing, food, employment and treatment, if they need it. Crees says he wishes he’d known about all of the options available to the homeless that could have made his life easier years ago, when he couldn’t afford rent.
“I’m really trying to talk to them to see what’s going on, since it’s cold outside, how they’re staying warm, how they’re getting fed,” Crees said. “Do they have a valid ID? If they don’t, I can begin that process of telling them, if they’re interested in getting one, about the resource guide I have. I work really well with an organization in the city who helps people get their birth certificates and IDs going. I can help in terms of housing and job placement … I’m more of a helper, a connector.”