Dealing with the Homeless

It is always a struggle for the police, who are on the front lines here, to protect and respond to business and residents when property or people are, or feel they are, threatened by the actions of the homeless; an issue we struggle with as it relates to the wide-spread and long-term illegal camping by the homeless in the Parkway; so we sympathize with the police—and the homeless—as this works itself out in Rancho Cordova, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.

Both sides have competent legal representation, so this issue should be resolved in a fair and balanced way; an outcome we hope to see.

An excerpt.

Rancho Cordova police officers routinely and unlawfully detain, arrest, harass, threaten and assault homeless people in an effort to drive them from the city, alleges a civil complaint filed this week in Sacramento Superior Court.

The action, filed by Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin on behalf of a man and a woman living on the streets of Rancho Cordova, asks for a temporary restraining order to stop police from engaging in practices that the complaint says represent violations of constitutional rights.

Rancho Cordova Police Chief Michael Goold said he is “perplexed” by the lawsuit, insisting that his officers are only responding to complaints about loitering, panhandling and other issues associated with homeless people and do not harass them or detain them without cause.

“We’re responding to what our citizens want,” he said. “We’re not doing anything willy-nilly.”…

The police actions, the complaint says, violate various federal and state laws, including constitutional protections against unlawful detention and arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Some cities try to legislate homeless people out of town,” said Merin. “Others use police to destroy homeless people’s property. Others, like Rancho Cordova, instruct their police to make life so difficult for homeless residents that they will want to leave the area.”

Goold, the police chief, said his officers “are all for helping the homeless,” and the city has a wide range of services including transitional housing programs and winter shelter. But he said the city is struggling to deal with an increasing number of homeless people, many from outside the area, who beg for money in violation of Rancho Cordova’s recently enacted ordinance against aggressive panhandling.

“They’ll get money from someone who means well, then they’ll go to the liquor store, buy 40 ounces, get drunk” and pass out or become disorderly, said Goold.

Retrieved March 27, 2015 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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