Police chief addresses homelessness, crime issues

At the last city council meeting there were many people who addressed the council regarding the homeless, camping and litter along the river and transient issues associated with crimes within the city.

I want to assure the community that the city’s camping ordinance, (specifically related to the waterways), is in effect and enforceable. The police department has conducted camping enforcement operations since the ordinance has been in effect and issued citations related to the incredible amount of trash adjacent to the river.

We are aware of the abhorrent amount of trash along the river. The city has planned several clean-up days moving forward, consisting of many volunteers, city employees and our incredible partner, C&S Waste.

However, the trending issue is the trespassing and/or vandalism of local area residences and buildings.

Although these crimes have been associated with the homeless/transient issue, it is not necessarily true the two have a nexus to each other. We have discovered the vast majority of these break-ins and thefts result from people who have resided in our community — some for many years.

As I have said since I took this position, we need the community’s help. We need our community to call and report suspicious activity. If you see someone going into an abandoned building and/or residence, call us so we can try to arrest these people who are trespassing or committing other crimes. You might have a home near you that is vacant or up for sale and see activity inside — call the police department.

I have heard time and time again, “the police department can’t do anything.” Although past legislation that has reduced the severity of some crimes, if a person occupies or breaks into another’s home/building, etc., it is still a crime. But, as we address these crimes, among others, we need the community’s help. In order for us to catch these perpetrators, we must rely on our community to help out.

I know many are frustrated by these recent crimes. I join in your frustration. But we cannot be productive without the help of our community. You have an incredible group of people at the police department who want to help our community, and we all join together in an attempt to prevent these crimes and hope to deter others who want to commit these crimes in our community. It is my plea that you all help out in making our community a better place.

Please reach out to me at the police department at 257-5603.

And remember, if you see something, say something.