The Fullerton Police Department continues to successfully link people who have fallen on hard times with loved ones willing to take them in.
Cpl. Michael McCaskill and Officer Cary Tong, two of the Fullerton PD’s four full-time officers assigned to the agency’s Homeless Liaison Unit, recently succeeded in relocating a homeless man to Detroit and a woman and her dog to Illinois — the latter a joint effort with the Orange Police Department.
In both relocations, Corporal McCaskill and Officer Tong worked with the non-profit Coast to Coast Foundation to help secure fresh starts for these two needy adults.
“We are always thankful when we’re able to reunite family members with loved ones,” Corporal McCaskill said.
Caring for her mother
Several months ago, Connie Lopez came to the Fullerton area to be with her gravely ill mother.
After her mother died a few months ago, Lopez bounced around between Orange and Fullerton. Her Social Security disability checks weren’t enough to keep a roof over her head.
Lopez, homeless for the past three months, resorted to panhandling to try to raise enough money to go home and live with her daughter in the small town of White Hall, Ill. (population: around 2,700).
Orange Police Officer Trevor Cullen, of that agency’s PERT (Psychiatric Emergency Response Team), came in contact with Lopez while she was panhandling.
On Jan. 15, Cullen contacted officials at Coast to Coast and the Fullerton Police Department to see if anyone could help her.
Working with Coast to Coast, Corporal McCaskill was able to buy Lopez and her dog plane tickets back home — $271 for Lopez and $125 for her pooch. The Fullerton Police Department was able to secure another $70 to pay for Lopez’s extra bags.
Lopez flew out of John Wayne Airport on Jan. 17 and arrived in St. Louis, where her daughter, Felicia Lopez, picked her up and drove her to Illinois.
“We were grateful to be able to work with Orange PD and Coast to Coast to make this reunification possible,” Corporal McCaskill said.
From a job to the streets
Carter Pittman had a good job as a money manager in Orange County.
“I was gainfully employed and worked hard,” the Detroit native said.
But when his employer experienced tough times, the pink slips flew — and Pittman was among those laid off.
For six months, he lived off unemployment checks.
Then, the checks stopped coming.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Pittman said.
Pittman became homeless around mid-October.
About a month ago, he found his way to the Fullerton Armory — where Fullerton PD Officer Cary Tong met him.
Pittman has three daughters — two who live in Arizona, and one in New Mexico — but they weren’t able to take him in.
On Tuesday, Jan 20, Officer Tong drove Pittman to LAX to catch a Southwest Airlines flight to Detroit, where his brother had agreed to take him in.
The cost of the flight: $296.00.
“He was extremely grateful, and we were happy to help him out,” Officer Tong said. “Stories like this never get old, and I am humbled that Fullerton PD with the help of Orange PD and Coast to Coast were able to play a part in making this happen.”