How a PD's homeless outreach program reunited a family

David Milligan's family hadn't seen him in over 20 years. Then the Long Beach Police Department came to the rescue


By Abram Yap & Bradley D. Futak

On March 16, 2016, Police Officer Brad Futak and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Psychiatric Technician Tom Kirk were assigned to the Long Beach (Calif.) Police Department’s Quality of Life program.

The program pairs a police officer and a mental health clinician to help utilize city resources and provide services to those experiencing homelessness, eventually placing them in permanent housing.

Pictured is David Milligan's first interaction with the Long Beach PD (left) and his treatment at a hospital (right). (Photos/Long Beach Police Department)
Pictured is David Milligan's first interaction with the Long Beach PD (left) and his treatment at a hospital (right). (Photos/Long Beach Police Department)

As part of this detail, Futak and Kirk were asked to address issues for people experiencing homelessness within certain areas of the city of Long Beach.

Request for Service

Futak and Kirk received a request from the Long Beach Health Department Multi-Service Center to respond to a person sitting on a bus bench at a busy intersection. The Multi-Service Center employee told them the person was very dirty and that he normally lived in or around the Los Angeles riverbed.

Futak and Kirk quickly found the person on a bus bench drinking coffee. When they spoke to him he identified himself as George Milligan. George presented himself to Futak and Kirk as very intelligent with a precise memory.

When they asked him when he became homeless, George said, “January 17, 1992.”

When they asked him when he last took a shower, George said, “Mid-April 1993 at the Long Beach Rescue Mission.”

After further questioning, Futak and Kirk discovered George had family. They got additional background information from George and then took him to the hospital and placed him under a 72-hour observation hold.

After transporting George to the hospital, Futak returned to the station and began attempts to locate George’s family members.

Reunited

Futak was unable to confirm George’s identity, but was able to locate information on a David, Martin, Paul and Michael Milligan who had the same address. Through further research, Futak contacted a possible family member (a sister, Rebecca) who lived in Northern California.

When Futak and Rebecca first spoke she said she did not have a family member named George. Futak asked her if she had any family members who were missing, and she said she lost her brother over 25 years ago. She said her missing brother was named David. Futak sent his recent photo of George to Rebecca over a smart phone. A short time later, Rebecca called Futak in tears. She was overjoyed that George was her missing brother David.

Rebecca then called her other relatives in Southern California. Those relatives were able to visit David in the hospital the same day. David’s family told  Futak this was their long, lost brother. In 1995, approximately three years after David went missing, his family hired a private investigator to locate him. After no news, they gave up hope and thought he had passed away.

Futak and Kirk visited David in the hospital. They learned he had life-threatening medical issues that were promptly treated. After those medical issues were resolved, David was placed on psychiatric medication, which really helped him. David told them he left home in 1992 because his father wanted to place him on disability income. David did not want any government assistance, left home and never returned.

After approximately one month in the hospital, David was discharged and started living with family members in Southern California.

Futak and Kirk went above and beyond their duties to reunite this family after over 25 years apart. Futak has said this was one of his most successful calls during his four years with the Quality of Life detail. This story shows what a little time and a lot of determination can accomplish.

Lost and found

It has been well over a year since David was reunited with his family. One year in housing is considered a bench mark with helping people end homelessness. Futak and David’s family still keep in touch. They even send him photos of David and his family out to dinner on special celebrations.

About the Program

The Quality of Life Program was founded in 2007 by the Long Beach Police Department in an effort to impact vagrancy-related crimes, reduce the number of calls for service related to the homeless population and seek long term solutions for these issues.

The Quality of Life team serves as a liaison to connect homeless individuals to non-government agency services, community support groups, housing resources, transportation and mental health services.

The team also provides training to police officers and outside agencies on alternative methods for addressing homeless-related issues. The program is primarily funded through grants and individual contributions.

Here are some program statistics from 2016:

  • Field interviews                                                        1306
  • Calls for service                                                        501
  • Bus tickets purchased                                             39
  • Motel rooms purchased                                         211
  • Rehab/sober living placements/housing             87
  • Shelter placements                                                 102
  • Mental crisis evaluations                                       112
  • Hospital calls for assistance                                  210
  • LB Rescue Mission calls for assistance                125
  • Multi-service center calls for assistance              832
  • Clothing/meals                                                         329
  • Mental health aid via “The Village”                        45
  • Veterans resources                                                 24

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About the authors
Abram Yap is a Police Sergeant with the Long Beach (Calif.) Police Department assigned to the Downtown Entertainment District. He is also assigned to supervise the South Division Quality of Life Detail.

Bradley D. Futak is a police officer with the Long Beach (Calif.) Police Department South Division Quality of Life Unit.

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