By Ashley Quadros
Hospitality House is embarking on an exciting partnership with the Grass Valley Police Department (GVPD), the Nevada City Police Department (NCPD), the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and Nevada County Behavioral Health to introduce the first-of-its-kind training curriculum for local law enforcement through an awarded Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) grant.
The POST curriculum will introduce a street team approach to assist officers in addressing the complex set of challenges surrounding homelessness and best practices for effective communication with emphasis on chronic homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse and effective alternatives to camping in rural settings. A key part of the training will also provide the officers with detailed information about homelessness, its causes, its impact on the community, as well as the service system in place in Nevada County.
“I am excited to be involved in this process with the Hospitality House and our partner agencies and stakeholders,” explained Chief Chad Ellis, NCPD. “I truly believe with us all working together collectively, we can and will see improvements in the ways that we have been dealing with one of our biggest community issues which is homelessness. I’m proud to be a part of this program and look forward to the future benefits it will bring to our agencies and community.”
Chief Alex Gammelgard of GVPD agreed, adding, “The Grass Valley Police Department is committed to reducing crime and improving the quality of life in our community. As such, we value the strong partnership with Hospitality House and our allied law enforcement agencies as we work collectively to address the root causes of homelessness, provide services to folks experiencing homelessness, and ensuring public safety for all citizens of the community. This is an opportunity to elevate the conversation around law enforcement’s role in reducing homelessness and providing local officers with tools and best practices for how to best address homelessness in a way that is fitting for western Nevada County.”
To create the curriculum, first steps include collective fact-finding trips to San Diego, Santa Rosa, Modesto, Woodland and Sacramento where all parties will observe and learn from other developed homeless outreach programs that incorporate local law enforcement. The first trip is scheduled for early August.
Data and information collected from all locations will be analyzed to determine which aspects are most applicable to Nevada County. Findings will then be used to write the curriculum content, develop the course workbook and related materials, with direct input from all participating agencies. Additionally, Hospitality House has recruited POST curriculum expert Tamara M. Floyd of True Management, LLC to assist with curriculum development.
“This is a highly innovative project,” explained Nancy Baglietto, Executive Director of Hospitality House. “We were the only nonprofit awarded by POST in all of California. By taking a proactive stance to create the best possible solutions for peaceful and purposeful interactions between local law enforcement and individuals struggling with homelessness, we are empowering our community as a whole.
Once the POST curriculum is developed, two representatives from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, GVPD and NCPD will be trained to present the POST-certified training to local law officers. It is anticipated the curriculum will begin in spring 2020.
Captain Steve Johnson
Grass Valley Police Department
Chief Chad Ellis
Nevada City Police Department