Redding Police Chief speaks out about transient population

Feb 17, 2015 8:13 PM by Charlene Cheng

"Are we looking at how we're doing business so that we can serve our local homeless population without attracting those from out of the area?"

That's the question that Redding police chief Rob Paoletti wants the community to take away.

At Thursday night's town hall meeting, he revealed the results of a recent survey, conducted by his officers.

A total of 188 transients, 127 answered voluntarily.

37% of those said they came to the area because of the services available.

"We get people from southern Oregon, northern Nevada. We got two that we talked to, they got tickets from Florida. So why are they coming to California? This population talks to each other," Chief Paoletti said.

He adds that a portion doesn't even want to be here.

He suggests that the Good News Rescue Mission expands its Journey Home program.

Eligible applicants are given free bus tickets to return to where they came from.

"You have to have friends or family on the other end before you qualify for that. But they tell us they don't qualify, so do we need to take another look at how we're operating that bus ticket program?" Chief Paoletti said.

But the Rescue Mission's executive director Jonathan Anderson is standing his ground.

Having that support network isn't negotiable.

"I don't think it would be ethical on our end. We do want to make sure they have that support structure and our community isn't accused of doing what others have done to us," Anderson said.

As for the assertion that local charities are to blame, he says his organization is working closely with the chief to deal with the growing issues.

"He's sat with our board and said 'here's my perceptions, ask these questions of yourselves.' Moving forward in 2015, we've made tremendous changes to make sure we're benefiting both our community and benefiting those homeless people who really want this help," Anderson said.

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