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Homeless residents need holistic approach

Police Department will notify downtown businesses of sweeps
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Lincoln’s approach to dealing with homeless people needs more than a law enforcement presence, the city’s top police officer said Friday.

Interim Lincoln Police Chief Tim Harrigan said the city has a homeless panel that meets monthly and includes representatives of the City Council, the Downtown Lincoln Association (DLA), The Gathering Inn and The Salt Mine.

“It’s a great group,” Harrigan said Friday, at a Downtown Lincoln Association meeting. “The homeless sector in the community needs a holistic approach; it’s not just a law enforcement effort.”

“Arresting individuals is not the answer,” Harrigan added. “We are stepping up patrols in the downtown area. Unfortunately, we do not have an officer to dedicate to the downtown area.”

Harrigan said his department continues to make routine patrols of and cleanup in the Auburn Ravine.

“The DLA will be notified when ravine cleanup is being done,” Harrigan said. “

Lincoln has a consistent number of homeless residents, between 25 and 30, according to Harrigan.

“The individuals you see are probably known to you,” Harrigan said. “Most, if not all, are known to the department. They have ties to the community.”

“This time of year, the homeless gravitate toward the park,” Harrigan said. “They don’t want to be in the ravine.”

Downtown Lincoln Association President Wayne Sisneroz said the city and police department are doing a great job.

“Being homeless is not a crime,” Sisneroz said. “It’s a multi-faceted situation, including mental-health issues and drug addiction.”