Orange County Register ran a story worth repeating last week. Here's the link to watch the video. The text is below.
By Adam Carlson@acarlson91
04/02/2016 AT 11:25 am EDT
Police officers have to have many skills to be effective – including how to play hopscotch.
Just watch this video from the Huntington Beach, California, Police Department, posted on Facebook on Wednesday, which shows one of their officers teaching a homeless girl how to play hopscotch.
The sweet moment has a serious lining, according to the department: Officers Wednesday morning were investigating a "suspicious occupied vehicle" when they learned that a mother and her 11-year-old daughter were living out of their car.
While officers worked to arrange housing for the family, one of the officers "began displaying his expertise in hopscotch to the daughter," according to the department.
Video of 'Officer Friendly' playing hopscotch with a homeless girl in the affluent California community of Huntington Beach is all the rage on mainstream media channels, but few noticed the original reason why the cop was there.
Turns out, anonymous neighbors tried to ‘shop’ the girl and her mother to police. They rang the authorities to complain about a “suspicious occupied vehicle” Wednesday, rather than doing the neighborly thing by going out to offer assistance.
Officers Zach Pricer and Scott March were dispatched to “investigate”.
Fortunately, they decided not to criminalize them, which is often the reaction by authorities, but instead March contacted the Homeless Task Force while Pricer started teaching the girl how to hopscotch.
The video, which was filmed by March, has been viewed more than 750,000 times.
Comments below the Facebook post reveal a number of people in the area know the mother and daughter. One commenter recognized them from church and said they had been attending services for years.
“They have lived in their van for a while. Very nice and respectful mom and daughter,” another commenter said.
While most of the comments were gushing with joy at the sight of a police officer playing hopscotch, as opposed to shooting unarmed civilians, another commenter got real.
“Wait. People know this mother/daughter living situation AND they attend a local church AND they've been homeless for years? Why hasn't anyone offered employment or a place to stay for a while, while they save a little money and get back on their feet?” read the Facebook comment.
Huntington Beach is in Orange County, which has one of the most expensive housing markets in the US with values increasing by almost seven percent last year. The median house price in Huntington Beach is $735,500 and the median rent is $3,000 per month.
The oceanside city has a largely hidden community of homeless people who live in tents and cars, or on the streets. The county’s homeless population grew by 5 percent between 2013-2015, according to the Orange County Homeless Count & Survey Report, due to rising rents and a lack of affordable housing.
In Orange County, a person must earn $65,760 to afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to the California Housing Partnership Corp. With California’s minimum wage at $10 per hour, this leaves low-income employees at a shortfall.
Nearly 4,500 homeless people were counted in the survey, which is carried out every two years and reflects a single day in January 2015, half of them sleeping outside of a shelter, a 31 percent increase in two years. 450 of them are military veterans.
Huntington Beach passed a no camping rule in 2012 in reaction to complaints from residents about the shelters created by homeless people on beaches and in parks.