After Denver city councilors passed a controversial ban on "unauthorized" camping in mid-May, critics argued the city had effectively criminalized homelessness.
When the ban goes into effect May 29th, it will be illegal for the city's homeless to sleep in sleeping bags, tents, or other constructed outdoor shelters anywhere camping is unauthorized. Unauthorized areas include: alleys, sidewalks, public city parks, outdoor malls, and any private property without prior written consent. Namely, where some of the city's homeless bed down for the night.
A survey conducted in 2011 numbered the region's homeless at north of 11,300 people, an estimated 28 percent of whom sleep outside. So how, exactly, do you enforce a measure of this magnitude?
Prior to the ban's passing, Denver Police Chief Ron White indicated officers would be as relaxed possible. "From a law enforcement perspective, the absolute, unequivocally last thing we want to do as a police department is arrest someone for a camping violation," said White to Westword.
And according to a copy of the Denver Police Department's Training Bulletin, Chief White was telling the truth.
The document emphasizes directing unauthorized campers "toward services," and states that in all circumstances (excluding life threatening ones)
a citation should not occur if an individual is in need of a homeless shelter or bed, expresses a willingness to accept homeless shelter assistance, and the officer is notified that shelter space is not available.
READ the full DPD training manual below: