DENVER (CBS4) – The City of Denver is hiring a half dozen people for a “Street Enforcement Team” to wear park ranger-type uniforms and hand out tickets to violators of the city’s urban camping ban as a last resort. Encampments of those experiencing homelessness have received sympathy in the past, but now are getting more complaints from residents near them.
The problems have included filth, drugs and crime.
“The focus here isn’t to use enforcement, but there does have to be a consequence if we can’t get them to move otherwise,” said Armando Saldate, the Assistant Deputy Executive Director for Denver’s Department of Public Safety.
The uniformed civilians the city will use would supplement police in order to provide a less threatening encounter. Some advocates for the homeless population don’t necessarily care for the idea.
“It’s just another escalation for ways in which the mayor has influence to invade the camps,” said Benjamin Dunning, spokesman for the group Homeless Out Loud said.
Those hired to go out to the sites will receive various types of training from the City Attorney’s Office, Department of Housing Stability, Sheriff’s Department, Denver Fire and Denver Health on how to handle situations they meet. The members of the Street Enforcement Team will not be armed.
They will be given guidance on de-escalation and other skills.
Relations between some homeless advocates and the city have been tense recently.
Earlier this week, protestors carrying tents that read Home Run for the Homeless attempted to march to Coors Field for the start of the MLB All-Star Game, but were blocked by police.
John Staughton, who spoke for the protesters, said “As we moved we were met with larger and larger oppostion from police, including a SWAT team came in.”
At one point in a live video stream shot by “Cut the Plastic,” a woman described as a Buddhist monk was seen on the ground. Police told her to move. She apparently wanted to forge ahead, but was escorted back into the crowd.
Denver police said the march was re-routed because of heavy traffic at the time and some of the protesters were able to make it to the stadium.