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Street Outreach Services

NCJ Number
Date Published
15 pages
This paper describes the Street Outreach Services (SOS) project of New York City's Midtown Community Court.
The focus of the Midtown Court is upon improving the quality of life of the community as a whole as well as dealing with low-level (misdemeanor) offenders in such a way that they are not only held accountable but provide service to the community and receive help for behavioral problems. The SOS project was initiated by Dave Connolly, an experienced substance abuse counselor whose job at the Court had been to evaluate offenders and refer them for placement in detox and treatment programs. In the pilot phase of SOS, Connolly started going out on the street with Kenneth Ryan, an experienced and skilled community patrol officer. As a team, the officer and counselor approached street people without jobs and in some cases without homes, as well as prostitutes. The goal of the team was to converse with individuals to determine their life situations, their needs, and their problems. The role of the police officer was not to arrest persons for public order offenses and intimidate them with the threat of sanctions, but rather to communicate to them that the Midtown Community Court and the associated SOS could put them in touch with services and guidance that could help them get jobs and improve their lives, while at the same time removing them from the streets and reducing their risk of becoming involved in crime. From November 1996 through October 1997, SOS outreach teams recorded 1,692 contacts with people on the street. During the same period, 264 people reported to the court seeking services from the SOS caseworkers.