The homelessness problem is very real in the United States, and it’s especially bad in the warmer, urban areas like San Diego.
Many of these men and women end up in the spot they’re in through a series of extremely unfortunate events, often through no fault of their own. Sometimes poor decisions lead to homelessness, too, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t since found the drive to get back on the right track. Many have too much pride to accept what they think is a “free ride” through homeless shelters, but cannot find another way to get a hold of their bearings.
Sergeant Rick Schnell of the San Diego police department has been a part of the force for 35 years as of 2014. For the last 14 years of his career, he founded one incredible program to help the homeless called the Serial Inebriate Program, or “SIP.” Instead of just tossing the homeless people that commit minor crimes straight into prison or back onto the streets, Schnell wondered why the city wasn’t doing more to encourage these people to take advantage of the programs already available to them.
The work he’s done for the homeless population in his town is incredible, but what’s even more amazing is his ability to connect with each individual. Maybe it’s that his kindness made them feel a little more like a part of society again, or maybe it’s the fact that he took the initiative to spread knowledge about resources… but either way, this man is a hero. A coworker called him a “social worker with a gun.”
Although he retired in April of 2014, his presence and generosity is still felt throughout the San Diego homeless community today.
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