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Tucson Police’s Homeless Outreach Team working to keep population out of washes, tunnels through monsoon

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 8:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The monsoon rains prove dangerous for many people, but especially those without homes. And the Tucson Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team is working to keep them safe.

“We have to say, ‘I know you want to go to the tunnels, I know you want to go to the washes where you’ve got peace and quiet, but understand, the water level is going to be 5, 10, 15 feet high. If you’re in a tunnel and you get washed into it, you may not make it out.’”

That’s the message Sgt. Jack Julsing and officer Josh Parrish are working to spread throughout the community of those living on the street.

They’re part of the Homeless Outreach Team, a team that is crucial, especially this time of year.

“And we’ve had that in the past where homeless individuals have drowned and just washed out into the Santa Cruz River ... or any of the other washes, so we don’t want that,” says Julsing.

During monsoon, the team tries to find other areas for people who are homeless to stay peacefully while providing outreach.

The officers work with the Department of Transportation, as they oversee many of the local washes, continuously urging caution to those who live in high-danger spots.

“We make sure everyone makes sure they’re getting out of these dangerous areas. ... The water when it flash floods, it will sweep you away and you will never be able to get out.”

But because people need to be moved from washes and tunnels to stay safe, and affordable housing is so scarce, Julsing says there’s a good amount of people who will be visible on the streets during this time.

“Just try to be patient because if we try to push them around too much, or we try to move them, they may end up going back into the tunnels where it’s not safe and you never know. You could be asleep and in an hour you’ve got tons of water flooding you and it could lead to your death. So we just ask for patience and we understand it’s a frustrating issue for society so we appreciate the understanding.”

The department continues to work hard and advocate for more affordable housing to hopefully alleviate some of the danger for these people.

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