LPD Homeless Outreach Team patrolling 34th Street after business - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

LPD Homeless Outreach Team patrolling 34th Street after business complaints

LPD Homeless Outreach Team is now patrolling 34th Street daily (source: KCBD video) LPD Homeless Outreach Team is now patrolling 34th Street daily (source: KCBD video)
LPD Homeless Outreach Team is now patrolling 34th Street daily (source: KCBD video) LPD Homeless Outreach Team is now patrolling 34th Street daily (source: KCBD video)

It's a growing concern among business owners along 34th Street - the increase in homeless people in that area.

This has prompted the Lubbock Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team to begin patrolling 34th Street from Indiana to a few blocks west of Quaker daily.

Sergeant Steven Bergen is the supervisor for the Homeless Outreach Team. He says in the last couple of weeks the team has received several calls from business owners.

But now Bergen says officers are starting to make some progress along this route.

It's hard to see the problem just driving along 34th Street, but Sgt. Bergen says you can ask any business owner, and they'll likely have something to say about the growing homeless issues.

He says two businesses in particular reached out to the team.

"The homeless individuals that they were talking about were becoming aggressive as far as the panhandling, coming into their business and making them feel uncomfortable," Sgt. Bergen said.

So the team started daily patrols of the area. He says they've made contact with several homeless people in just the last few weeks.

He says the goal is to help them find an alternative place to live, though arrests will be made if necessary.

"Just showing up, making them leave and maybe an arrest is made, it doesn't really fix or address the issue with that person, and that's what we try to do. And we've been successful with it. Not just us but working with our community partners," Sgt. Bergen said.

Sgt. Bergen says two arrests have been made, but he says those arrests were for marijuana and synthetic marijuana.

He says simply by word of mouth, officers discovered the problem is in the alleyways behind the businesses on 34th.

"We also talk about cleaning up shrubs or bushes to not make it conducive for people to be able to hide. And as you can tell this business who cooperated with us greatly, they ended up doing that. An individual was sleeping in between their business right there," Sgt. Bergen said.

Right next door is Jan's Parts & Things, owned by Jan Sims for the last 31 years.

She says she has faced her fair share of criminal activity from homeless individuals. The worst incidents happened in the Fall of 2015.

"They broke my door out, they took a bunch of Echo chainsaws...got that fixed, thought we were ok. Had bars put on the door at the suggestion of the Lubbock Police...that was until the 13th of December, and they'd like to ruin me. They came in. They tried to knock the metal doors off. They couldn't get it, so they broke one of my 7-foot plate glass windows. They separate the bars that were on there, they got in. They knocked off all the locks in the back and they emptied my store of chainsaws and blowers," Sims said.

But Sims says she has seen a difference since H.O.T. has been patrolling the area.

"This was about a week ago. I came down here, I noticed there weren't quite as many people around as there were," Sims said.

Sgt. Bergen says he hopes this patrolling and outreach provides some relief for the business owners and employees who have been worried.

He says they'll continue this into the near future.

"When you get to experience that with a business owner who has been there and they've had issues for years and you can alleviate that from them. To me, that's what it's about, is working together and being able to accomplish things within your community like that," Sgt. Bergen said.

"Hopefully these people will see that this team is genuinely trying to do something for them. And if they do, then maybe we will be able to help the homeless because we've got a lot of them around here," Sims said.

If you have a concern, you can contact the Homeless Outreach Team directly at 806-775-2975.

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