ROCS team tackles mental health

Hemet Police community task force helps restore city through individual care
In an effort to provide long-term assistance to the city’s homeless, the ROCS team has been building bridges with local and county resources.

■ By Taj Shorter / Metro Editor

The Hemet Police Department’s Restoring Our Community Strategy (ROCS) team has implemented newer approaches in 2018 in order for Hemet PD to help restore the city to the clean, safe community for which it has been known for so many years. This includes a unique approach that only Hemet task forces and few other cities in Riverside County have introduced – mental health care.
The Valley Chronicle last July visited the Hemet Police Department headquarters in the 400 block of East Latham Avenue after being invited to the department for an interview. Lt. Glen Brock, a near 13-year veteran of the department, wanted to follow up with an informational meeting to address concerns citizens had about police responses to fireworks complaints over July 4.
During the visit, Brock gave the Chronicle a tour of the police station. The tour included a look into their holding cells, conference rooms, the control room, and even the dispatch center. Brock introduced many of the hard-working officials from the department and provided insight into their roles. Some of those officials we met with were members of Hemet PD’s ROCS team.
The team briefed us on its mission and what the goals of the task force are. The ROCS team was launched late last year and has made numerous accomplishments since then to help the Hemet Police keep the city safe. Some of its main efforts involve fighting the homelessness problem on the city’s streets.
The Chronicle has since published a story about the ROCS team’s reuniting a homeless woman named Ladonna with her family in North Carolina. The task force worked with Valley Restart and authorities in North Carolina to help the woman return back home. Ladonna had originally moved to Hemet years ago, but eventually became stranded and was forced to live on the streets. Thanks to the work of the task force, Ladonna was able to take a bus home and reunite with a family member that had been desperately looking for her.
The ROCS team has logged numerous other success stories like Ladonna’s, which is due in part to a unique strategy it has when encountering individuals living on the streets; it brings in a mental health expert. Unfortunately, a lot of people who are homeless either are mentally ill or battling drug addiction. One of the team’s unique assets is a licensed therapist in the person of Joel Galindo.
Brock introduced Galindo to us on the tour and explained that he helps the ROCS team when approaching certain individuals on the streets. The team’s therapist tries to help those who are mentally ill or struggling with drug addiction. The goal is to help rehabilitate them into productive, healthy citizens.
The Hemet Police ROCS team is only one of two task forces in the county supported by police departments that have access to a therapist. As a result of their success, they are trying to encourage other cities in the county to follow suit. Brock says they believe it starts with the individual but they can help by providing those who want help the support they need to get back on their feet.
In an effort to provide long-term assistance to the city’s homeless, the ROCS team has been building bridges with local and county resources, such as Valley Restart, United Way, The Department of Public Social Services, Anchor in Christ, and Liberty Ranch, to name a few. The team helps only people who are willing to accept that help. For those who are not ready, the ROCS team says that it still enforces the law to ensure that law-abiding citizens are protected.
Following is a snapshot of the ROCS team activity since its launch late last year:
Eight people helped to return home.
Eleven people helped off the streets and into some form of housing.
Twelve nuisance properties have been identified and the city is compelling the owners to clean them up.
Five firearms have been recovered.
More than 100 grams of illegal drugs seized.
More than $1,200 recovered from drug dealers.
Arrests are averaging about 100 per month.

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