Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 16, 2014

Shepherds in Blue

I met Houston Police Department Officer Jaime Giraldo in 2011. At that time Officer Giraldo was one of three officers assigned to HPD’s new Homeless Outreach Team. This team was charged with the responsibility of compassionately connecting with and assisting Houston’s homeless population. In February 2011, just one month after the Homeless Outreach Team was launched, the weather turned very cold in Houston. That’s when I connected with Officer Giraldo. Our missions ministry provided sleeping bags, jackets, blankets, and warm caps and gloves that the Homeless Outreach Team officers distributed to the homeless. Since that time we have worked together to meet many needs among the homeless in Houston and Katy.

With HPD's Senior Police Officer Giraldo and Sergeant Wick.

With HPD’s Senior Police Officer Jaime Giraldo and Sergeant Stephen Wick.

Since its inception in 2011, the Homeless Outreach Team has grown. And, through the help of grants, they now have their own custom vehicles equipped to help the homeless and to transport them to shelters and hospitals. Over the past year, a documentary film crew spent some time with the Homeless Outreach Team officers to produce a documentary on their remarkable work. My friends Officer Giraldo and Sergeant Wick are among those featured in the film. Last week, I had the privilege of attending the premiere of the documentary at the Sundance Theater in downtown Houston. It was a memorable evening.

The documentary is appropriately entitled “Shepherds in Blue: How Community Policing is Guiding People Home.” What started as a pilot project to help the homeless in 2011 has gown into a compassionate initiative that is making a difference. It was one thing to see the stories of life transformation on the screen and quite another to see formerly homeless people at the premiere. The collaboration of the Homeless Outreach Team with others who care for the homeless in our community is changing lives. After the premiere, it was nice to hear Kingsland named among those who care about the homeless and who generously support the work of our Shepherds in Blue.

Police departments in major cities around the country are now curious about what is happening in Houston. More than thirty have received copies of the documentary. Arresting and incarcerating the homeless is expensive for any city. However, connecting the homeless with compassionate partners around the community is not only more cost-effective, it is smarter and yielding greater results. Jesus said, “For the poor you always have with you” (John 12:8). I’m thankful for the Homeless Outreach Team and their work of seeking out and helping the poor who are living day-to-day in desperate and dangerous circumstances. Our Shepherds in Blue are worthy of our prayers and our support as they compassionately care for the homeless.


Responses

  1. I just watched the film, it was awesome! I think the main reason they are a successful team is because they are building relationships with the homeless. They are not putting a “bandaid” on the problem. So thankful KBC is a part of HOT!

    • Absolutely true, Patricia. Good word.

  2. What a great ministry. Looking forward to seeing it!

    • The HOT is making a difference. Love these guys.

  3. What an effective way in which the Houston PD is doing good and truly helping those on the fringes of society. I reflect often on the time you and I spent with Officer Giraldo when I was in Houston. I pray that Boise may come to see what has been done in Houston and implement something similar here. God bless you Omar and everyone at Kingsland for the amazing initiatives that you support so generously!

    • Hopefully other police departments around the nation will consider the value of adding or assigning officers to a homeless outreach team. Thanks for your good work with the homeless in Boise.


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