El Centro, California - "We get a number of calls, daily as a matter of fact, regarding issues and concerns involving people from the local “homeless” population. The calls range in severity from simple concern and illegal camping to aggressive panhandling, drug use, theft, and even acts of violence. This is evidenced a handful of recent unprovoked attacks on members of the community and is tremendous cause for concern.
"Addressing the issue of homelessness is not a simple task from a law enforcement perspective. Simply giving warnings, tickets, and arresting people from this particular demographic does little to mitigate the true problems typically associated with it. We have found it important to identify the differences between true homelessness, vagrancy and a transient population merely passing through.
"We at the El Centro Police Department have taken a proactive approach to the issue and have been involved with several local agencies, non-profits, and our code enforcement. We have been met with mixed results however food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and family reunifications have all been proven valuable tools which otherwise would not be at our disposal. Academia and government have both studied the issue and one of the contributing factors is the availability of handouts from the public, more specifically monetary handouts. Being able panhandle for loose change only perpetuates many of the problems facing the homeless community (they may not see it that way). Which brings us to the point where we ask for the help of the public.
"What we are asking is that we all stop giving monetary handouts. Instead, please consider donating to local agencies and nonprofits who are dedicated to assisting and remedying the issue with homelessness. We assure you we will continue to enforce the appropriate laws but ask that you consider this request in helping address the issue." ~ El Centro Police Department