FWPD Blends Empathy, Enforcement to Remove Vagrants / Homeless

FWPD Blends Empathy, Enforcement to Remove Vagrants
by West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association
At the February 20 WMNA meeting, Captain Michael Shedd, Fort Worth Police Department Eastside Division, told members and guests at the meeting that letters, emails and calls to the City of Fort Worth regarding vagrancy and illegal camping in the area had been heard.
“We’re blending empathy and enforcement to address the  problems of vagrancy, illegal camping and littering on the East Side,” he said. “It’s not illegal to be homeless, but some behaviors associated with homelessness are illegal.
Shedd and a team of Neighorhood Police Officers are working closely with non-profits serving the homeless to match those living on the streets and in parks with services. He announced that in the next week the FWPD would visit 19 camps to notify the residents they were criminal trespassing on private property.
Ten camps are in East Division; nine are in Central Division. Campers will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and removed if they do not leave private property or parks.
Many of the camps were found and documented by Tom Hamilton, WMNA board member. Media reports in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Channel 5 and Channel 8 kept the public’s focus on the issue. “Following the removal of the campers, code compliance will send in teams to remove debris and brush from the site,” he added.
Shedd also said he was assigning an NPO, Travis Ward, to the East Lancaster Avenue business corridor, as well as creating a bicycle patrol to circulate through the area. His job will be to get to know the business owners and the homeless sleeping on private property. “He will be encouraged to explain to businesses that they must request that vagrants be removed.”
“As a community, you will have to decide what you will tolerate,” he said, when asked if the campers and vagrants will just move to another area.  Shedd added that he was combining a shift to put more officers on the street during busy periods.
In other announcements, District 8 City Council Representative Kelly Allen Gray announced that the City of Fort Worth and the Task Force on Ending Homelessness will hold a joint meeting at 6:30 p.m., March 27 at the First Presbyterian Church, 
1000 Penn Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas. Don Boren is the chair.
Follow-up: In the week following the Feb.20 meeting, police details visited 19 camps and removed many of them after 48 hours. Code compliance followed up to clear up trash and bio-hazards littering the sites.
On March 6, Capt. Shedd reported to area residents that he had executed on his plan and encouraged residents to continue to let him know about new camps that are established. A detail was scheduled to walk Tandy Park in conjunction with Parks and Recreation.

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