More angels on the street mean more support for Tempe families in crisis.
Whether it’s domestic violence, a homicide or simply a child who refuses to go to school, the city of Tempe has developed a quick and effective network of services to assist citizens who don’t know where to turn for help.
In July, Tempe Police and the Care 7 Crisis Response Team formed a partnership with the Phoenix Angels on Patrol to provide citizens with more access to social services.
The result, according to all involved, has been phenomenal.
“You can’t imagine how beneficial these services are to families,” said Sgt. Jeff Glover, media relations and public information officer for Tempe PD.
“I’ve heard so many stories that show they are really making a difference.”
The Angels on Patrol Program adds additional support to Tempe’s established Care 7 Crisis Team. For 15 years, Care 7 volunteers have accompanied police officers and firefighters to 911 calls, providing stabilization and advocacy services.
Kristen Scharlau, Care 7 program coordinator, said the crisis team puts Tempe police officers and firefighters back in service so they can respond to other calls that are more urgent.
“It’s a cost saving for the city,” Scharlau said. “It’s really expensive to have a fire truck with four firefighters on it helping an elderly person or maybe a hoarder or whatever the case may be.”
Leah Heathcoat, program director of Angels on Patrol, said Tempe residents are fortunate to have the Care 7 team.
“When we started the conversation about expanding into Tempe, we learned what an integral part Care 7 plays with the Police and Fire departments, and looked at how we could fit into that,” Heathcoat said. “Everything just fit really well and we launched in July.”
Scharlau said in a short period of time, Care 7 and Angels on Patrol have developed a close relationship.
“We work together,” Scharlau said. “Care 7 provides for immediate needs like food and shelter and Angels on Patrol fills in the blanks and helps people with long-term needs.”
In a recent crisis situation, a school resource officer put in an application to Angels on Patrol to assist a high school student whose family was going through a difficult time. Their utilities had been turned off. They needed food and they needed the utilities turned back on so they could put food in the refrigerator.
In a collaborative effort, Care 7 advocates delivered a food box to the family so they could get through the weekend and Angels on Patrol paid $100 on the organization’s SRP M-Power card to get the power back on.
“It meant everything to that family,” Heathcoat said. “The mother was so grateful. She was in tears. They went to the school and thanked the officer.”
In another situation, Lt. James Click of the Tempe Police Department put in an application to Angels on Patrol to help a Tempe grandmother, Donna Austen, who was having car problems. Austen is raising her two granddaughters on her own and relies on one car for all their transportation. She experienced a temporary financial hardship when one of the granddaughters was hospitalized.
Through Care 7’s connection to Restoration Rides Ministry, Austen’s car was repaired and Angels on Patrol paid part of her mortgage for that month.
Austen said she doesn’t know what she would have done without the helping hand from the two agencies.
“I think we would have spent a long time on buses or broken down on the side of the road,” Austen said. “These agencies have lots of connections and are a good example of putting the pieces together to help someone. If I can ever find a way to pass this on, I certainly will.”
Heathcoat said their job is all about supporting police officers and improving the relationship between officers and citizens.
“It even improves how the officers feel about their community,” Heathcoat said. “It uplifts them and makes them feel like they were able to do a little something extra.”