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Officers' persistence helps get homeless veteran off streets

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Posted at 10:47 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 12:10:44-04
Jarred Baggeley is wearing clean clothes and knows he will have a warm meal on the table.
 
That wasn't the case just a few weeks ago.
 
"People were looking down on me because I was homeless. They categorize you. It is a shame," Baggeley said.
 
The veteran spent about a year and a half on the streets of Spokane, Washington before trying to get a new start in Las Vegas.
 
"I literally hitchhiked all the way down here," Baggeley said.
 
The move didn't help.
 
"Now I am homeless here, and it is a huge city, and I am not sure what to do," Baggeley said.
 
"I just fell into that depression. It was dark it was cold."
 
While he says most people just walked on by, Baggeley says a group made up of Las Vegas police officers was there to offer a helping hand.
 
"It was literally every day they were checking in on me.  Making sure I was okay, they were keeping me safe," Baggeley recalled. "They'd ask me are you hungry, and they would go down to the pizza joint and buy me some pizza."
 
The group was part of a community outreach effort involving the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Convention Center Area Command.
 
For the past year, those officers have been teaming up with the help of Southern Nevada, U.S.VETS, Westcare and other organizations to walk the strip once a week to offer assistance to the homeless.
 
"A lot of times people see the police, and it evokes a certain reaction.  Our goal is not to have that reaction.  WE want to ease in and establish a relationship," Sgt. Donnie Cox said.
 
It was weeks before Baggeley finally took the group up on their offer.
 
"I said enough is enough. It is time to get my life back.  I am a soldier.  I am a fighter, get up and keep fighting," Baggeley said.
 
At that point, he didn't wait for them to come around.
 
He walked straight into HELP of Southern Nevada.
 
"They drove me around for two days getting things taken care of," Baggeley said of the support he got from the group, which connected him with U.S.VETS.
 
That was a high point for those who had been trying to get him help.
 
"It makes a thousand no’s worth it just to see one person succeed," Giovanni Lomagno the Outreach Specialist with U.S.VETS said.
 
"I think this is a brilliant story of exactly what happened with our relentless effort to reach out," Sgt. Cox said.
 
The group has also connected Baggeley with the VA, which is helping with medical care.
 
"Right now he has a clean blank canvas, and he is going to pick up a brush and paint a picture that he wants to paint," VA Peer Support Specialist Thomas Coloma said.
 
Baggeley is set to start a new job this weekend and is optimistic about the future.
 
As for the group that helped get him back on his feet.
 
Baggeley says he is grateful for all of their work.
 
They plan to be back on the streets doing their normal outreach every Wednesday.