Denver takes law enforcement out of the equation when it comes to breaking homeless camps, Mayor Michael Hancock told Axios.
Why it matters: “We have seen through our investigations across the country that it obviously increases tensions when the police move in first,” Hancock said in an interview.
- Context: Clashes between police officers and protesters armed with cell phone cameras have become the norm during homeless camp sweeps. Some confrontations become violent; others affect the resolution of locations as a whole.
Driving messages: Hancock has directed his team to create a “compassionate or civil corps” to clean up tent cities instead of armed police, he said.
- The team of trained professionals warns people sleeping on the street about illegal camping sites and connects them to the social services they need.
Flashback: Last month, a legal challenge prompted a federal judge to rule that city officials must give residents at least seven days’ notice.
The state of affairs: The service providers agree that the change in strategy is a welcome step.
- The solution is one of many that proponents have been calling for for years. She cites research showing that using the police in sensitive situations involving people with mental health problems leads to better results.
Yes but: “The devil is always in the details,” Colorado Coalition spokeswoman for the homeless, Cathy Alderman, told Alayna.
- “This connection to services has to make sense,” she said. “It has to be realistic for the person you are speaking to, not realistic for a population that you believe should accept a certain type of service.”
This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, which is designed to help readers get smarter and faster about the most important news in their own garden.