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The issue is public safety, criminal behavior – not homelessness

  • A tent lies collapsed (right) at a camp where homeless people live between Stickney Ave. and Storrs Street.

    A tent lies collapsed (right) at a camp where homeless people live between Stickney Ave. and Storrs Street.

  • Trash is piled under the I-393 overpass alongside the railroad tracks.

    Trash is piled under the I-393 overpass alongside the railroad tracks.

  • A homeless camp is seen across the fence-line from the Kimball Jenkins Estate.

    A homeless camp is seen across the fence-line from the Kimball Jenkins Estate.

  • A tent lies collapsed (right) at a camp where homeless people live between Stickney Ave. and Storrs Street.

    A tent lies collapsed (right) at a camp where homeless people live between Stickney Ave. and Storrs Street.

  • A tent lies collapsed (right) at a camp where homeless people live between Stickney Ave. and Storrs Street.
  • Trash is piled under the I-393 overpass alongside the railroad tracks.
  • A homeless camp is seen across the fence-line from the Kimball Jenkins Estate.
  • A tent lies collapsed (right) at a camp where homeless people live between Stickney Ave. and Storrs Street.

The Monitor has published several articles and columns in recent days detailing some of the individual circumstances of homeless people in Concord. I’d like to let readers know what the police department’s role has been in dealing with some very real safety concerns regarding homelessness in our city.

Much of my time in recent months has been spent addressing the safety concerns of citizens and business owners and how to approach solutions to these very real problems involving homeless individuals. Progress is being made. The Concord City Council last Monday approved a new ordinance dealing with the passing and receiving of items along the roadway. This new ordinance received wide support from homeless advocates and community members alike.

I’m also part of the mayor’s committee to draft a 10-year plan to end homelessness. We have met twice, and there is much work to be done. There are no easy answers, strategies or solutions to adequately deal with the stark realities of homelessness; if there were, communities across the country would not be grappling with the same concerns that we are.

This year, the behavioral problems associated with many individuals who are homeless surfaced quickly with the arrival of spring. Private landowners downtown began experiencing a proliferation of unacceptable behaviors, often criminal in nature, from individuals squatting on their property. Moreover, there were health and sanitary conditions that carried equal concern.

As a result, the landowners asked for relief in addressing public safety and the deterioration of their private property. The police began by notifying homeless individuals that they could not remain on the property. Weeks later, the officers issued warnings and provided a reasonable amount of time for the individuals to move from the private property. This was followed by written summonses for those who did not comply with the warning. Nearly 20 individuals were given court dates for trespass. Nearly none of those individuals were required to post bail, but were instead provided a ticket to appear to court. Only one individual was taken into physical custody. His demeanor warranted a stricter approach.

Like the new “passing” ordinance that deals with managing unsafe behaviors involving solicitations from motor vehicles, the police are responding to the concerns of citizens and private landowners to mitigate behaviors that are unsafe. The recent focus behind the Concord Center was the result of specifically identified criminal activities and sanitation concerns.

The Concord Police Department has also increased patrols downtown in direct response to complaints from citizens and business owners who have reported other types of criminal behavior from homeless individuals.

My past, in no small measure, has helped mold the person I am today. I was raised in Manchester, one of six children. We lived in a single-family home, on the West Side, in a safe neighborhood. Life was good, until the time it wasn’t. Due to family circumstances, we lost everything: house, car and safe neighborhood. It was a difficult time. We received government assistance with food stamps and the free lunch program. Were it not for the kindness and generosity of family members, church and others, who knows what would have happened. Crisis touched my life, and I am empathetic to the predicament of the homeless.

Homelessness in Concord is a concern for me. So is criminal behavior and public safety.

There are certainly homeless individuals within Concord who do not engage in criminal behavior. Those who do, however, will receive the requisite response from the police in order to protect the safety of the community. The Concord police will continue to partner with stakeholders and other concerned citizens to find sustainable solutions for anyone requesting help or assistance.

(John Duval is the Concord police chief.)

Before we get to holier than thou. I have seen many properties of non homeless in similar states as your worse case pictures. If you go back thru Concord's history you will find a direcr connection with the closing of the old State Hospial and the rise in homeless people in Concord. Add to that the increases due to economic reasons and the cutting of social service spending due to the same, and here we are. There are no simple answers but I assure you that expelling the person who has no where to go from one spot only moves that problem somewhere else. Why not identify a parcel of vacant State land for them to camp on. Easier to police, safer for them and would protect the property value of those whose valuable land abuts a railroad track (sarcasm). After all people don't want to fix the problem, they just don't want to see it - plain and simple. Or for those less feeling, lets create a gulag and ship them all out to it. Afterall, the Bill of Rights was only written to protect those of us that are worth it, right?

These pictures certainly indicate the worst case scenario for camping on public or private land. Two areas shown were known hangouts for some of those shackled by substance abuse, and trash pileups occurred over many months, unless some was added for effect. Why the sanitation dept. offered no solutions over that time period is a valid query. So here we are again, validating the worst fears of the general public in regards to providing land space for tents or shelters. Continue painting all homeless with such a broad brush, and we're stopping the conversation in mid-stream. The chief and I were both able to utilize the resources available to get us back on our feet, but many are not. And 75% of the homeless I shared space with would not be disrespecting the land space, as indicated. While we traverse these many obstacles towards solving the homeless issue, let's be careful not to stigmatize the unfortunate ones who would certainly help themselves and others, if given a chance.

"...trash pileups occurred over many months, unless some was added for effect." "Why the sanitation dept. offered no solutions over that time period is a valid query." Seriously? Someone added trash for effect here? And what would the sanitation dept do? Pick up the trash for them?

They pickup the trash for all, either at our curb, or in facilities placed around town. Unfortunately, there are no convenient, designated trash pickups for the homeless, and there will always be a few that don't care. My mention of staged effects was hyperbole, and hopefully, forgivable. But having gone through those areas in the past, I hadn't witnessed trash left to that extent. If the trash is on public land, then it needs to be monitored and cleaned, and yes, the persons responsible be made accountable, just as anyone whose caught throwing trash out the car window, or along the sidewalk. But I wouldn't place all motorists and pedestrians in the same company, and hate to see all homeless pay for the sins of the few.

Kudos to the Concord Police Department and Chief Duval who is doing exactly what is necessary. The majority of these homeless individuals are criminals and should not be wandering around this community. Many of these folks have come here because good ole Concord hands them everything and enables their lifestyle. Did you see the picture of the two homeless arrested last week. Geez people, wake up. Help the folks who REALLY need it and give the rest a one way bus ticket out of town. Nice to see a pro-active Police Department. About time!!

In fact, the minority are criminals.

If you are camping on someones private property with out permission...is that still true?

Say what you want, but I have to believe should I ever wind up homeless, I would not forget at least some basic housekeeping. There is obviously more than just being homeless going on in those pictures.

To all the bleeding hearts, just look at these pictures. Disgusting pigs, that's what they are. You don't have to have a dime to clean up after yourself.

democrats have run Concord for a long time. Now that the issue has been highlighted by the press can any reader succinctly tell us what is the democrat solution ....thought not....the reason being is that democrats only talk a good talk they never ever have a solution

Here we are again. The democrats this the democrats that. This is not a personal attack per see, but every post has one thing in common, liberal democrats are responsible for every evil. From giving Eve the apple, to hurricanes and tornados. Just how is this a pertinent response to this thread. Or for that matter any of the multitude of other identicle posts. To quote Flip Wilson - The democrats made me do it.

Geeze Mauser, I thought everything was Bush's fault and often times Reagan's fault. Now where would I have gotten that idea?

Got me? Like I have always said, there is more than enough blame to go around. In politics it all boils down to money - no matter what you call yourself. At least I don't cut and paste "It's the democrats fault" into everything I post unlike sail. That being said, how will the blame for the TP heartland tornado's be connected to Obama?

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