Rising concern with Carson City homeless
May 9, 2018
The Carson City Sheriff's Office will be stepping up enforcement with the homeless around town after several complaints of increasingly aggressive and problematic transient individuals.
Sheriff Ken Furlong said he has personally started receiving complaints about the homeless loitering in public places and harassing individuals. The individuals often are found around Smith's, Mills Park, the library and bridges.
"Several weeks ago we got complaints from several service providers and community members, the rec centers, and parks and recreation and outdoor spaces about homeless individuals around town being aggressive," Furlong said. "Even the service providers in town are concerned which says a lot to me."
Furlong said the department even had one incident where a homeless man threatened a library patron to give him money or he would urinate on her. However, Furlong said, a majority of the time the incidents aren't criminal, just "irritating in nature."
"The alarm is low, but the complaints don't usually rise to the criminal level in most calls which is a challenge for us," Furlong said.
While occasionally, homeless individuals will be arrested on warrants or for drug- or alcohol-related issues, often the most the department can do is just tell them to move along.
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"Being homeless isn't against the law and while (homeless individuals) may make you feel uncomfortable with their presence or mannerisms, often our hands are tied," said Capt. Jeff Melvin. "But that won't stop us from responding to the calls … the difficulty comes when we don't have a place to shelter them so the Sheriff's Office will contact and people expect action when there just hasn't been a crime committed and we can't always do something."
Often, the proper agencies for the homeless population are the service providers around town, but Furlong said even they're at their limits with available resources.
But to try to help the situation, Furlong said they'll start stepping up their efforts in the area from Stewart Street to Saliman Road. The Parks and Rec department also will be increasing patrols with their park rangers to help keep them from loitering in the parks and also help assess the attitudes of the transients in the parks.
"If they get aggressive or break the rules of the park then they will be ejected immediately," Melvin said.
If community members experience any unwanted conversation, Furlong recommends to not engage and walk away.
"If you feel the need please call 911 and we will get a park ranger or the Sheriff's Office in the area," Furlong said. "It is a concern for us, the rangers and the service providers and we will make every effort to take care of the public's concerns."
One of the concerns officials have is with the transient individuals loitering around Mills Park this weekend with the Mother's Day carnival in town. Furlong said there will be an increased presence of police and park rangers at the carnival to make sure there are no disturbances for the families.
"I intend for moms to be able to take their kids to the park and be able to enjoy it," Furlong said.