Can We Prevent Deaths of Homeless Persons? Police Led Public Health Approach to Prevent Homeless Deaths

Natalie Kroovand Hipple, Sarah J. M. Shaefer, Robert F. Hipple, Jr., Alfarena T. Ballew
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From: Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless

Research on homeless populations demonstrates that homelessness in itself is an independent risk factor for death. However, there is a dearth of detailed data on homeless decedents and the situations surrounding their deaths. This lack of knowledge, a desire to understand how and why homeless individuals were dying, and a sentinel event death led the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Homelessness and Panhandling Unit to partner with a local researcher and begin conducting homeless death reviews. The approach is modeled after the evidence-based, public health approach of the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review process (FIMR). The FIMR model is a systematic approach to understanding system gaps and obtaining insights into the factors that resulted in homelessness and ultimately death. This article reports on the process to develop this unique multi-agency, police-led review of homeless deaths in Indianapolis, Indiana and resulting recommendations for action to decrease these deaths.