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Homeless Expect Police Sweep As Camping Ban Goes Into Effect

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver's ban on urban camping went into effect on Tuesday. Business leaders say it will make city streets safer, but homeless advocates say it unfairly targets people with nowhere to go.

Police have been training for the ban and say the goal is to take people to shelters, and if they're full, campers are not supposed to be arrested.

"It's going to be enforced in a very passive manor and arrests being the least desirable and last option," Detective John White with Denver police said.

Lenore Gilmore isn't homeless, but camps with the homeless to show her support for the Occupy Denver movement. When the ban goes into effect, she says she won't budge.

"I want a ticket. I want to face a judge and ask a judge what they expect people to do when they have nowhere else to go," Gilmore said.

Most campers anticipate a police sweep, but there may be a grace period until June 1.

The below information was released by Mayor Michael Hancock's office:

Unauthorized Camping Ordinance Fact Sheet

As part of Denver's efforts to prepare for the implementation of the ordinance, the Denver Police Department (DPD), Denver Human Services (DHS) and Denver's Road Home (DRH) have undertaken a series of measures to standardize procedures and bolster services provided to the city's homeless population.

Educational Outreach

The following outreach steps have been taken to educate stakeholders and those affected by the ordinance:

  • Informational letter distributed to community.
  • Informational letter distributed to businesses and business organizations.
  • Informational flyer created and distributed for use by stakeholders.
  • DPD Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) conducted several informational sessions at shelters and other service provider facilities.
  • Outreach workers are educating individuals and groups about the ordinance and urging those contacted to look into services.
  • Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) distributed informational flyer as well, informing those on the mall about the ordinance.

Police Training Bulletin

  • To accommodate ordinance provisions, the DPD has developed a training bulletin and officers have received specific training in regards to the enforcement of the new ordinance. The training bulletin establishes a step-by-step engagement and services-connection process that is to be followed with each circumstance.
  • Joint training between DPD officers and DHS outreach workers to prioritize service connection has been conducted.

CAM protocol

To accommodate ordinance provisions and to ensure that we are moving people to the services they need, DRH has implemented the CAM system:

  • CONTACT: DPD officers will make contact with those who are camping without authorization.
  • ASSESS: The outreach workers assess the individual and their circumstances.
  • MOBILIZE: Appropriate organizations or individuals are contacted to assist the individual.

Through the collaborative work of Human Services, Denver's Road Home and Denver Police Department, the CAM system will help ensure we are connecting people with specific services.

Resource Card Launch

Laminated pocket sized resource cards have been created as a quick reference tool for DPD officers and outreach workers. These cards will also be available to local businesses through the Downtown Denver Partnership.

A more detailed tri-fold version of the card will be available in the coming days.

Increased Shelter Availability

Denver's Road Home has:

  • Extended contracts to keep cold weather beds open through the warm weather season.
  • Coordinated zoning waivers to allow extension.
  • Organized temporary shelter at local churches for overflow availability.

Transportation to Resources

Denver's Road Home has contracted for the short-term use of a bus for transportation as needed and will continue to review longer term options to address the need.

System Improvements

  • Working with Mile High United Way 2-1-1 line to expand the use of the line for connection of individuals to outreach workers and services.
  • Coordination with Mile High United Way to adapt a shelter update system for use by outreach workers and DPD officers to determine shelter space.

Continuous Efforts

  • Fundraising.
  • Use of city-owned facilities as emergency shelter for extraordinary needs. Neighborhood meetings will be coordinated in advance.
  • Efforts to expand the shelter opportunities available in the faith-based community.
  • To further explore the option of a 24-hour shelter, the Homeless Commission voted to form an ad hoc working group in conjunction with the Shelter sub-committee to explore this possibility (rest and resource center).
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