Goodyear Police outreach team works to help those experiencing homelessness

Oct 25, 2021, 4:35 AM | Updated: 11:16 am
(City of Goodyear photo)...
(City of Goodyear photo)
(City of Goodyear photo)

PHOENIX — An outreach team from the Goodyear Police Department is working to help those experiencing homelessness get back on their feet.

“Our team was formulated to combat any kind of the criminal elements of homelessness as well as (be) an outreach team to help those experiencing homelessness get in contact with resources and shelters,” David Mitterbauer, officer and member of the department’s Homeless Outreach Team, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

He said the team was created in 2018 when several people in the department and city council members noticed an influx of individuals experiencing homelessness in the city.

The team, made up of an officer and a sergeant, drives around the city looking for homeless camps or people that appear to be homeless and makes contact with them to offer any help that may be needed.

“I try to find out if they are in need of any immediate services, any emergency services,” Mitterbauer said.

He added the team also serves as a crisis intervention for the department.

“That’s a big role because there’s a large amount of issues involving mental illness that cross over into the homeless aspect,” Mitterbauer said. “We have a lot of people that we come in contact with say they want help going to rehab for either drug use or alcohol abuse.

“If somebody is having some mental issues, we can either take them voluntarily to a local mental health facility or we can write a petition for them to be seen at that mental health facility.”

The team works with several organizations to help those experiencing homelessness, Mitterbauer said, including Phoenix Rescue Mission and Angels on Patrol.

“As a police department, we don’t have immediate access to the resources,” he said. “We basically put people in connection with those that can get them the resources.”

Another focus of the team is educating the community that homelessness is not a crime.

Mitterbauer said the Supreme Court has shot down many laws against panhandling, which was determined to be a first amendment right, while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also shot down various laws of urban camping.

“While the public may want us to strictly enforce the laws, legally we don’t have those laws to enforce,” he said.

“We got to find other ways of helping them basically get back up on their feet.”

The team, however, does provide private businesses the ability to request officers to trespass people from the property if the owners are not present.

Mitterbauer said the team will begin by notifying the person first, but may look at possible arrest if the person continues to return.

Goodyear police advise people who see a panhandler to donate clothes, food or money to a charity that directly helps the homeless instead of giving the person money.

The team says giving panhandlers money allows them to stay on the street longer and contributes to the homelessness epidemic.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report. 

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pexels Photo)...

Valley contractor owes employees $2.6M in wages, damages in settlement

A Phoenix-area construction contractor agreed to pay $2.6 million in back wages and damages as part of a settlement reached last month, authorities said.
23 hours ago
President Joe Biden tours the building site for a new computer chip plant for Taiwan Semiconductor ...
Associated Press

President Joe Biden touts economic plan at TSMC chip plant in north Phoenix

President Joe Biden on Tuesday visited the site for a new computer chip plant in Phoenix and touted his economic plan.
23 hours ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

Child killed in 2-vehicle collision on Thomas Road in central Phoenix

A child is dead and three other people are in the hospital after a collision in central Phoenix on Tuesday morning, authorities said.
23 hours ago
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)...

Special counsel investigating Trump sends subpoena to Valley elections officials

A federal investigator wants know what Donald Trump and his surrogates said to Maricopa County elections officials before and after the 2020 election.
23 hours ago
(Unsplash Photo)...

Pecking orders from Chandler expand rules on keeping backyard chickens

Families in a Phoenix suburb will be counting their chickens, but only up to five, after the city government approved backyard chickens.
23 hours ago
(KTAR News File Photo)...
Kevin Stone

Police say possible gun at Scottsdale school was just computer equipment

The student who reported a possible gunman at a Scottsdale high school last week actually saw somebody carrying computer equipment, police said.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Goodyear Police outreach team works to help those experiencing homelessness