Denver Camping Ban Enforcement Started Monday (VIDEO)

06/05/2012 01:40 pm ET | Updated Jun 06, 2012

Denver city councilors passed a controversial ban on "unauthorized" camping in mid-May, leading critics to argue the city had effectively criminalized homelessness.

And though the ban technically went into effect May 29th, making it illegal for the city's homeless to sleep in sleeping bags, tents, or other constructed outdoor shelters anywhere camping is unauthorized, Denver Police didn't begin enforcing the measure until June 4.

A sweep of Denver's Civic Center Park on the morning of June 5, a spot where homeless individuals (and Occupy Denver) have frequently spent the night, revealed no one sleeping there, according to the Associated Press.

"I just got to find a place that's outside of Denver's reach," said "Lurch," a homeless man sitting in Civic Center Park on Monday to the Denver Post. "Everybody is being run out of any place they can hide."

Prior to the ban's passing, Denver Police Chief Robert 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.

"The reality is that our actions are going to be under tremendous scrutiny," said Rob Parks, an officer with the department's homeless-outreach team to the Denver Post.

CORRECTION:
A previous version of this article stated that there were people arrested Monday night, but a spokesperson with the Denver Police Department said there were and have been no arrests made in connection with the camping ban.

READ the full DPD training manual below:

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