Why won't mayor, APD chief get homeless out of parks? - Albuquerque Journal

Why won’t mayor, APD chief get homeless out of parks?

APD Chief Harold Medina has issued written orders to all APD officers on how to deal with unlawful homeless encampments found at city parks. Police are ordered “not to attempt enforcement of littering, trespassing, obstruction of sidewalk” and laws and ordinances unless the Family Community Services Department requests such enforcement and only after FCS department personnel determine the homeless camper is continuing to trespass after being given a 72-hour “notice to vacate.”

Medina’s special order is an abuse of power. Mayor Tim Keller and Medina are picking and choosing what laws are to be enforced against the homeless when it comes to city parks. It eviscerates sworn police officers’ authority to enforce the laws by removing their discretionary authority when it comes to the homeless who camp in city parks.

Unlawful encampments at city parks demand immediate orders to vacate to protect the public that use the parks. It is unacceptable to give the homeless 72 hours written “notices to vacate” to clear a public park of their personal property. It will create a “no man’s land” like Coronado Park in all 288 city parks. The general public has the right to demand and expect the peaceful use and enjoyment of all parks in a safe manner, especially where there are playgrounds and children, without occupancy by homeless campers.

The city claims the only time it can immediately clear out a camp is if it is putting the campers or community members in danger. That is not true. The city can rely on its nuisance abatement laws and declare encampments on city property nuisances.

Keller can use the inherent authority of his office and issue executive orders to clean up and remove unlawful encampments. Ostensibly Keller is reluctant to do just that out of fear of being accused of being insensitive to the plight of the homeless as his administration spent $40 million in 2022 and will spend $60 million in 2023 to provide assistance to the homeless.

Being homeless is not a crime, but that does not mean they should be allowed to violate the law. APD must not ignore enforcing the city’s anti-camping ordinances, vagrancy laws, civil nuisance abatement laws and criminal laws, nor pretend they do not exist to accommodate the homeless.

The city does offer options. The city has the West Side 24-7 homeless shelter that can be offered where the homeless can go and camp. Another option is the new Gibson Gateway Center. The city also has on contract up to 10 service providers that need to do more.

If Keller and Medina do not want law enforcement involved with enforcing the laws when it comes to the homeless, then APD should not be dispatched to deal with the homeless. That responsibility should be assumed 100% by the Albuquerque Community Safety Department, which should issue immediate orders to vacate any unlawful encampment.

Unlawful encampment homeless squatters who have no interest in any offers of shelter, beds, motel vouchers from the city or alternatives to living on the street and want to camp at city parks really give the city no choice but to make it totally inconvenient for them to “squat” and force them to move on or be arrested by APD.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Why won’t mayor, APD chief get homeless out of parks?

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

Briefs: Amateur golf, Gladiators football, youth soccer
Featured Sports
Aidan Thomas, the former St. Pius ... Aidan Thomas, the former St. Pius standout who will be a junior at New Mexico State, shot a 10-under par-62, bogey-free round Friday and ...
Virgen: Two NM stars and what might have been ...
Featured Sports
About a year ago, Aidan Krafft ... About a year ago, Aidan Krafft of Cibola High and Quinn Yost of Piedra Vista might have had Cherry a ...
United expects defensive battle vs. 'really talented' Birmingham
Featured Sports
Birmingham Legion FC has excelled at ... Birmingham Legion FC has excelled at doing a lot with a little.New Mexico United's opp ...
Supreme Court expands gun rights in divided nation
From the newspaper
President notes he is 'deeply disappointed' ... President notes he is 'deeply disappointed' about decision, says it contradicts common sense
Editorial: Vietnamese war baby an inspiring US ambassador
Rio Rancho's Tina Diep is truly ... Rio Rancho's Tina Diep is truly a humanitarian ambassador. The daughter of a ...
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is ready to ...
From the newspaper
After a brief delay, it'll be ... After a brief delay, it'll be full steam ahead for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad season b ...
Fishing Line for June 23, 2022
Fishing Line
'Chocolate: The Exhibition' brings the history of the bean ...
After its run in Albuquerque, the ... After its run in Albuquerque, the exhibit will begin to travel the state, with its first stop in Hobbs at the Western Heritage Museum.
Zu Hot Pot brings the interactive dining experience back ...
Dining Reviews
Hot pot cooking traces its roots ... Hot pot cooking traces its roots back a thousand years to Mongolia, where horseman reputedly used their helmets as pots for cooking meat in ...