RCPD Quality of Life Unit works to provide resources to the homeless

RAPID CITY, S.D. — With recent talks of homelessness surrounding Rapid City, what is the city doing to combat the problem and help those in need?

The issue of homelessness is not new in Rapid City. In response, the RCPD launched the Quality of Life Unit in April 2018, and the goal of the unit is to work with and provide resources on a personal level to the homeless.

“We go out underneath the bridges, we go on the bike path,” said Senior Patrolman, Jim Hansen. “And when we go out there, and we’re talking to them, we find out about their family, we find out about how they’re there, why did they get there. What can we do to make it better for them and at the same time helping our community.”

The unit is housed in the Care Campus for easy access, and officers dress in plain clothes, to help ease the discomfort of those they serve. Even so, Hansen says there could be between 30 and 40 interactions before homeless individuals began to open up to officers. So, the unit focuses on building relationships that would foster trust.

“The difference with us is we’re out there differently than just wanting to take them to detox, just wanting to arrest them,” said Hansen.

Despite being tasked with helping the less fortunate, the unit rejects the idea of a homeless winter camp. The concerns are poor sanitation and unfit living quarters. 

“You can’t take people back in time, you can’t put them in a tent,” said Hansen. “These individuals, you have to have dignity and respect for them. Would you want your family to be in a tent in a cold winter like we have, or would you like to see them get help.”

Since it’s inception in 2018, the quality of life unit has helped 70 people get off the streets and turn their lives around. The hope is to continue making a positive impact in the city.

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