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MBPD's homeless unit shifting gears to put on 'friendly face'

Officer Mike Damore (WPDE)

Mike Damore starts his routine before breakfast five days per week.

Wearing his uniform, badge and gun, Damore, an officer with the Myrtle Beach Police Department, he patrols areas known to contain much of the city's homeless population.

He looks in parking garage corners and abandoned buildings to keep trespassers at bay, stopping to talk to those he meets along the way and move them to a better location.

“I’ll know who’s new in town and who’s not," Damore explained. "Who I’ve talked to, who I haven’t. And then, the new ones, I’ll try and reach out to, let them know what’s available to them.”

He asked one woman at a park if she needed help from a women's shelter. He approached another man and offered to help him find a job. He said he always checks on any families he comes across.

It's part of the shift he's been conscious to make since he came on board last year-- to be law enforcement's friendly face.

“A lot of them really don’t want help and they’re satisfied with what’s going on," he said, explaining that he thinks it's beneficial to have a good relationship with the people who occupy the city's streets.

His impact has been felt at the Community Kitchen, where he parks his car outside for breakfast and lunch every day. He knows most of the crowd by name and nickname.

“Before he came, it was like a lot of fights, people acting like, you know, like, crazy," Cynthia Mack recalled.

He said his presence has reduced the number of calls to that facility, and he's able to connect with anyone who needs assistance and help sort out problems between individuals before they get out of hand.

Even one man who got into an argument with Damore earlier in the day and was holding a temporary grudge, gruffly admitted that the officer was doing a good job.

"I see the department doing nothing but positive things for [the homeless population,]" Damore later said, of his two-man unit's future.

Then, it was time to go home for the day. Until his shift started again, before breakfast at the kitchen is served.

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