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Why does the police not do anything? By Jc Montenegro, PhD

A homeless person broke the water pipe at our youth center two times: on Sunday night and again on Tuesday evening, just a couple of hours before I wrote this paper. When I went to talk to the police, I learned that we have almost no options to prevent this person from repeating their actions. The police officer explained:

  • If we put the homeless person in jail, the current zero-bail policy means they will be released in one or two days and may return to commit the same or other crimes.

  • If you file a report, the investigators have so many cases that yours will not be a priority. The investigators will likely contact you in a couple of months.

  • If you approach the homeless person, which the officer did not advise, you don't know their mental state, which could be dangerous for you.

  • Your best option is to build a cage around the pipe...

The reality is that yesterday, I paid $3,800 to fix the pipe the homeless person broke, and tomorrow, I will most likely have to pay another significant amount to repair the damage caused by the same individual. Additionally, I have to build a cage so the pipes cannot be broken again.

I am frustrated. Here at the Salesian Family Youth Center, we serve our community and provide a safe haven for children who are unable to attend any other camp. In our latest blog post, I wrote about the average cost of a camp, which is $850 per week. Now, I have to spend around $7,000 to fix the problem caused by a homeless person.

While I was returning from the police station, I saw the perpetrator and decided to stop and talk to him. I explained that he had broken a pipe and showed him the video evidence. I also explained that our facility helps keep children off the streets and kindly asked him not to do it again.

My frustration and anger disappeared when I realized he was under drug influence. I felt saddened because I couldn't understand how a human could reach such a low point.However, this compassion does not change the fact that I need to find $7,000 to fix everything he damaged. At the same time, I question what is happening with our system. How can we do something to change this?

These are difficult questions to answer. Nonetheless, we are taking action! We are fighting to keep this place open and serve the community. We provide a space where young people can grow and become honest citizens and good Christians.

I also decided to write this blog because we, as a community, can do something to address these issues and make a difference. The police are not the villains in this story; they risk their lives daily to keep our community safe. However, the system fails when individuals are released from jail in just two days. I know this last sentence can be controversial, but the reality is in two days he will be back.

Our commitment as Salesians is to continue providing a place where young people can become the best version of themselves and positively impact our society in the near future.

Now, the question is what can we do to change our reality?

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