“I want to start helping rather than saying, ‘Let’s just take you to the hospital because you have a mental problem,’ or ‘let’s arrest you because you’re drunk,’” Sanchez said. “Let’s find the root of the problem and start working with the community and homeless people and start helping them out.”
That kind of comprehensive approach may require additional resources and money, she added.
Albanese said the size of a team in Burbank will ultimately depend on demand, but that the two officers and two supervisors currently devoted to the effort are more than what the department has had.
“It’s a little bit groundbreaking for us,” Albanese said.
Natalie Profant Komuro, executive director of nonprofit homeless services provider Ascencia in Glendale, which services many Burbank transients, said she supported the new effort.
“Even though it’s not the typical training for police, they do get called in to situations where they have to use those skills,” Komuro said. “It will help them be more effective in confronting the problems they face on the street.”
It could take a year or two before Burbank police determine if the project was worth the resources, Albanese said.