In a time when homelessness in the U.S. is peaking–more cities and states criminalizing sleeping in public spaces–one police officer in South Carolina offered a helping hand instead of placing handcuffs on the wrists of a homeless man.
Lieutenant Tim Conroy, of Greenville Police Department, helped a homeless man find his home by reconnecting him with his family in another state.
Lieutenant Tim Conroy, who oversees the rapidly growing Central Business District, works with residents and businesses in the rapidly developing downtown neighborhood of Greenville, South Carolina. One of his team’s task includes rehabilitating the homeless population.
According to the department, while Conroy was patrolling the streets, he met a man–only known as Mr. Bryant–who had been homeless for two years.
Determined to help Mr. Bryant’s family, and unrestricted by state borders, Conroy located the man’s family in Virginia.
Police said the man and his family were “overjoyed” when they were reconnected.
The department writes on its Facebook site, “Lieutenant Conroy located Mr. Bryant’s family in Virginia, and they were overjoyed to hear that he had been found. They came to pick him up and take him back home. It’s heartwarming to see the positive impact of such efforts.”
A recent report released by the National Homelessness Law Center shows that “amost every state, 48 in total, has at least one law restricting behaviors that prohibit or restrict conduct of people experiencing homelessness.”
Those “behaviors” in South Carolina include camping, sleeping, panhandling, loitering, or loafing in specified locations.
And, as of January 1, 2023, if you’re caught sleeping in a public space anywhere in Missouri, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor.
Less than two hours away in the state capital of Columbia, city leaders are making “aggressive strides toward addressing homelessness.”
In 2013, Columbia made headlines when it was reported that the city was exiling homeless people to a shelter 15 miles away.
Some municipalities, like Greenville along with others, are taking a different approach than the tough love examples enforced by other jurisdictions.
In 2019, a New Jersey officer helped a homeless man reunite with his family after 24 years apart.
After separating from his wife, CBS reports that Jose Lopez moved from the Garden State to Florida, and lost touch with his two daughters, then 17 and 10.
Many years later, Lopez called his daughters but after having several strokes, and ending up homeless, he again went silent.
But it didn’t break his spirit or his determination in finding his girls again.
Using his Social Security money to travel to New Jersey, Lopez landed at the Secaucus Junction train station, where he met a transit police officer who, noticing his helplessness, offered his support.
Lopez was connected with Crisis Outreach Officer Sean Pfeifer, who helped the man complete his journey.
“Mr. Lopez was intent on finding his family, and I wanted to make sure that I was there to help him with doing that,” Pfeifer said in an interview with CBS.
And the tearful reunion had Lopez meeting his fully grown daughters and his grandchildren.
“I’m thinking I’m in heaven. I’ve got my two best girls. I got a good friend,” Lopez told CBS.
Meanwhile, near the start of Covid, Hillsboro Police Department, working with several community partners, reconnected a homeless man, called Scooter, with his family in Arkansas.
Hillsboro Police writes on its Facebook, “Even with the pandemic making certain aspects of this challenging, we’re thrilled to report Scooter is now happily reunited with his brother and living with him safely in Arizona.”
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We’d like to thank these police officers, and departments, that are wonderful examples of humans making communities better!
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