Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cop With a Heart Using his Head

The historical traditional essence of public safety work, beyond the immediately obvious one of protecting the public, is doing all you can to ensure a public safety problem you encounter creates a solution you can offer.

This story from the Tampa Bay News notes one cop’s work in that regard.

An excerpt.

“Deputy Steven Donaldson wants the homeless to be uncomfortable on the street.

“He doesn't pass out blankets, doesn't get them food.

“Maybe that will motivate them, he says.

“Still, this Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy may be one of their greatest advocates.

“Over the course of the past year, the 44-year-old Town 'N Country native, the middle child of three boys, has turned his patrol job into one that focuses solely on helping the homeless get shelter.

“He's an unlikely source of help. He calls himself conservative, says he's no social worker, no bleeding heart. He hates bureaucracy and prefers a business plan.

“Yet this deputy spends all of his working hours driving down West Hillsborough streets doing anything he can to get the homeless off the streets.

"I'm not trying to be philanthropic," he explains. "I'm solving a problem."

“For 15 years as a patrol deputy, he dealt with homeless calls: disturbances, trespassing, public consumption of alcohol. Every arrest required paperwork and a trip to the jail.

“But within days, the offender would often be back on the street, doing the same thing — a classic "revolving door," Donaldson says.

"I don't have a particular affection for homeless people," he says. "I have a particular grievance toward wasting my time."

“Now, he knows most of the homeless people in the Town 'N Country area by name. He visits them regularly and asks them what they need to get off the street.

“He mediates quarrels, pushes them to apply for jobs and fills out Social Security applications for the disabled.

“He calls it simply the "homeless initiative."

“So far, he says, he's gotten 52 off the street.”