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SFPD Faces The Mentally-Ill Homeless

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco police and prosecutors are working on a new approach for handling homeless people who are repeatedly arrested for threatening others.

Officials in Golden Gate Park say many of the overaggressive homeless have mental problems.

Police and officials met in the park’s police station where a few of the homeless, that have been arrested multiple times, are quite familiar with the surroundings.

Police Capt. Dennis O’Leary said the initial focus was on one homeless woman in particular, who had been threatening people along 7th Avenue in the Inner Sunset. She was arrested Thursday afternoon.

According to O’Leary, the woman was known for employing intimidation tactics, verbal and physical assaults. She was even accused of throwing objects at people passing by the neighborhood’s corridor.

O’Leary says one of the problems with prosecuting the homeless is that the District Attorney has trouble finding witnesses that have no association with either the witness or the suspect in a lot of these cases.

However, in the case of the woman on 7th Ave., the police and prosecutors are on the same page.

“We hope to use the plan we’re going to use in this matter as a model for other police districts to follow,” said O’Leary.

Officials hope by demonstrating a pattern of behavior that they can get the woman off the streets and to the mental resources they feel is necessary.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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