Letter from Millbrae Police Chief Roger Copeland - Homeless
Dear Millbrae Resident,
The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office provides many services to the homeless of San Mateo County, all while balancing the needs of public safety in the communities in which we serve. The Sheriff’s Office Millbrae Police Bureau recognizes that Millbrae attracts transient population from all over the Bay Area, due to its proximity to SFO International Airport and the safe environment which this community provides.
California has not criminalized homelessness. When deputies come in contact with the homeless population, they are limited by law in what they can do. Unless a law is being violated, or there is an immediate need to have the homeless subject taken to a hospital, deputies cannot remove the homeless from the city, nor can they profile people based on the appearance of them being homeless. A deputy cannot even force a person to speak with them without a cause for detention.
Our deputies are well-versed in the resources San Mateo County has to offer the homeless, such as: temporary shelters, medical care, and public transportation. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office has an innovative program, the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT), that consists of one Sheriff’s detective and one clinician from San Mateo County’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Together, they respond to situations involving mental crises, and provide resources and services to the clients and their families.
Since mental illness and homelessness often intersect, a large portion of the PERT’s activities involve homeless outreach. As the PERT detective also acts as the homeless liaison for the Sheriff's Office, a significant portion of their work involves working closely with patrol deputies to address homelessness in the communities they work in. While our PERT and patrol deputies work to identify and provide the homeless with support services, these resources must be desired. If a person rejects these services, they cannot be forced upon them.
I want to assure you that while attempting to provide services to the homeless, your safety, and the safety of your loved ones, is at the forefront of concerns for the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies who are assigned to patrol Millbrae proactively enforce laws that relate to homelessness, when feasible; laws such as, but not limited to the following Millbrae Municipal Codes:
4.75.020: Solicitation on highways is prohibited
4.75.030: Loitering on median strip is prohibited
5.35.020: Use of motor vehicles, house cars, campers, and trailer coaches for human habitation is prohibited (between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am)
5.35.030: No person shall dump, place, deposit, abandon or leave any garbage, refuse, waste matter, human or animal excrement, septic tank sludge, sewage or other objectionable waste on any portion or part of any street, sidewalk, park, square, avenue, alley, or public way within or upon property belonging to the city.
5.65.040: Removal or possession of abandoned shopping carts is prohibited
The following California Penal codes are also applied, when suitable:
PC 602: Trespassing violations
PC 647(c): Accosting another for the purpose of soliciting
PC 647(f): Public intoxication
Ultimately, the Sheriff’s Office has the resources to offer support services to the homeless in Millbrae, and is proactively working to provide those services to people who could best use them. Through the proactive enforcement of the laws and codes mentioned above, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Millbrae Police Bureau intends to do everything legally possible to keep the citizens of Millbrae safe, and to keep the City a desirable place in which to live, work, and visit.
Chief Roger Copeland
Millbrae Police Bureau
San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office