Last week we got a rare look at the frustration many police officers experience when dealing with our homeless population.
In Moiliili, homeless folks living out of vehicles were taking up several parking stalls near a park and restaurants. Local business people didn't feel police were responding to their calls for help— even after some staff were threatened.
While our Allyson Blair was there, a police corporal told the restaurant manager that there was nothing police could do about the encampment. His expression of exasperation said it all.
Actually, there are things the police can do.
In fact, after our story aired, they started citing the people for sleeping in their vehicles. They can also force them to move at least every 24 hours.
But these measures are so weak and do not work at forcing people into shelter or housing. In a way, that officer was right.
Meanwhile, he and others are unfortunately hearing from citizens who accuse them of doing nothing.
It's symptomatic of a social services and criminal justice system that still doesn't work together years after homelessness was declared a crisis. We must do better— much better— for our community, and for a police department that has better things to do than spinning its wheels.