In Practice, a Center for Court Innovation podcast

In Practice, a Center for Court Innovation podcast

When Public Transportation, Police, and Homelessness Intersect: A Conversation about How to Support a Vulnerable Population

July 22, 2021

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, over 500,000 people a night in the U.S. lived without shelter, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. During the pandemic, those numbers rose even higher. Afraid they might contract Covid-19 in a shelter and lacking safe alternatives, many more people than usual sought warmth and safety in transit hubs. Social service providers across the country have tried to address their needs but can't reach everyone. Often it ends up being the police who engage one-on-one with the unhoused.

"The police are put in situations to deal with people and issues that government has not figured out how to handle adequately. Police all across the country deal with these difficult things on a daily basis," says Christopher Trucillo, chief of the New Jersey Transit Police.

On this episode of In Practice, Chief Trucillo, Deputy Chief of New Jersey Transit Police Laura Hester,  and Polly Hanson, senior director of Security, Risk, and Emergency Management at the American Public Transportation Association discuss with host Robert V. Wolf the intersection of homelessness and transit police, including successful partnerships among transit authorities, police, and local service providers that give the unhoused a chance to access services while also helping transit systems pursue their mission of safe transportation.