LPD helping the homeless

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2019

During last week’s LaGrange City Council work session, which doubled as a meeting of the Community Outreach Committee, the LaGrange Police Department and Chief Lou Dekmar presented some interesting and positive information related to how the police department, in tandem with a host of nonprofit organizations, deals with LaGrange’s homeless population.

Dekmar and Sgt. Marshall McCoy both spoke to the efforts the LPD has made and is making to establish connections with the city’s homeless population and to provide help in ways that make sense. This discussion prompted a recent memory of mine that helps provide a real-world example to the impact this work has in our community.

In the newspaper business, there are rarely days that end at 5 pm. One such night occurred approximately two weeks’ ago. Our managing editor, Daniel Evans, called me as he was leaving the office around 8 p.m. and told me there was a gentleman, who appeared to be homeless, seemingly setting up a makeshift sleeping arrangement outside our office for the night. I was concerned for this individual, and knew he needed to find a better, more realistic place to spend the night than the stoop of our office in the face of fast-approaching, bitter cold night. The nighttime temperatures were expected to drop into the low 20s that evening, thus the warming center run by the LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition seemed the best option.

In determining the best way to ensure a safe and swift trip for this gentleman, the decision was made to call the LPD and inquire if an officer could perform a wellness check and offer a ride across town to the warming center. The LPD obliged and this man was swiftly taken to the warming center.

In this single, unglamorous act of kindness by the LPD, one less individual had to face the overnight elements outdoors. This is worth applauding.

There are more than 20 organizations and groups who are working, on some level, to address the homelessness that exists in LaGrange and Troup County. The long-term solutions to this equation are complex and ever-evolving. However, any discussion revolving around long-term solutions prove no good if there are not real, short-term mechanisms to help those in need make it through the dangerous threat of an upcoming harsh winter night.

The overnight forecast calls for temperatures to dip as low as 24 degrees. The warming center will be open. If you come across or see someone in need of a place to stay, please relay this information to the LPD, who will continue to do the thankless yet much-needed job of helping ensure those who need it have a safe place to spend the night.