Please follow these guidelines when interacting with unhoused or disruptive individuals in the community
Is the individual currently creating a disturbance?
If the person is creating a disturbance, is the person violent (e.g., Grabbing people, punching, throwing objects, etc.)
If violence is involved, call 911 and if known alert the call taker if a weapon is involved. It is important to describe violent behavior to appropriately prioritize the 911 call. If it is safe, take a photograph of the individual or if video is available, preserve it for APD. Be prepared to remain on scene to speak with the responding officer. If a crime does not occur in the presence of an officer, they will only arrest the individual if you are willing to press charges.
If not, is there evidence of a prior disturbance or criminal activity such as a report from a witness or video tape of an incident?
If evidence of non-violent criminal activity is available call 911. Non-violent criminal activity might include indecent exposure, verbal threats to patrons or staff, etc. Be prepared to meet with the officer and provide evidence. You may also be asked if you are willing to prosecute in which case you might be required to attend a court proceeding. The officer will need to locate the individual to take action, so be prepared to suggest where you might have seen this person lingering in the past.
If not, does it appear that this individual requires assistance? For example, might they need clothing, food, shelter or medical assistance?
If yes, and it is between 7:00 and 7:00 pm, call 311 and request that a PAD representative respond. Be prepared to provide a location to find this individual and a description of what they look like. If possible and safe, take a photograph of the person and be prepared to share this with the PAD staff. Be aware that it often takes many interactions for a PAD social worker to gain the trust of someone living on the streets or who is suffering with addiction or illness. They will keep trying.
If it is after hours, you can call 311 or file a report with ATL311.com and request that PAD attempt to locate the person the following day. If known, be prepared to provide information regarding where this person is likely to be found at different times of day.
If you believe the situation is an emergency and the person cannot wait for assistance the next day, call 911. Emergencies might include someone who is physically ill or in an acute mental crisis.
You also have the option to call 911. APD may make the decision to divert to PAD if it is during normal hours, but this is a judgement call for the responding officer and/or the APD supervisor. APD also has resources available beside arrest to assist persons in need.
If none of these apply, leave this individual alone. It is not illegal to be homeless, to sit on public benches, etc.
Was the APD response satisfactory?
If not, ask the responding officer to call a supervisor to the scene.
Also share your concerns with Major Andrea Webster, Zone 6 Commander email@example.com. Be prepared to provide the time of the 911 call, time of officer arrival, location (street address) provided to 911, name of officer (will have surname on uniform), details of your complaint, and a way for the major to contact you.
When calling 911
Do not hang up until someone answers. If you hang up and call back, you are routed back to the end of the que. 911, like most other businesses and agencies in the post-COVID environment, is short staffed. Your call will be answered.
Do not be concerned that your call might be diverting resources from a more serious life-threatening incident. Call takers and dispatchers are trained to triage calls and will always prioritize the most serious calls first. Due to staffing this may result in a longer than desired response time, but an officer with respond.
All APD officers have received training in de-escalation. In all incidents where an APD officer responds, they may:
· Engage the HOPE Team (APD team specially trained to deal with mental health, substance abuse and similar issues)
· Engage PAD during normal hours
· Dispatch EMS if someone has been injured or needs medical attention
· Arrest anyone for whom they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.