Casper Police speak of issues, cures of growing homeless population
CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - It’s a story we’ve been covering for several months now. Casper’s growing homeless population... And the issues that it’s causing. In this report, I take a look at the legal and criminal side of the problem.
When discussing Casper’s ever increasing homeless population, Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters says there’s definitely some trends in the crimes that get committed by some of the homeless. Which he estimates equals 25% of the department’s monthly arrests. “That manifests itself in property crimes here in Casper... In thefts and things of that nature. And also manifests itself in quality of life crimes. Like public intoxication... The urninations/defacations here in our community. Camping in our community. Things of that nature. We also have a very high degree of drug use amongst that population.”
As any police chief will tell you, McPheeters has a certain budget the department should stay within. But recently... That’s been getting tougher. “This year, we are running way over budget. Because of this increase in these arrests. We’re running way over budget in our budget line. Where we pay for the incarceration and detention of individuals. But if things continue the way they are, it’s going to be a significant budget overture this year. And so it is alarming. It means if I have to pay for those expenses, we have to draw from other public safety resources. Or other city of Casper resources that are desperately needed elsewhere.”
Besides some residents from Casper finding themselves homeless, other cities are starting to send their homeless to Casper as well, exacerbating the problem. “Sometimes, that person after their released from that treatment, don’t have a way home. And so we find that they’re kind of stuck in our system. And without any local resources of their own... Those personal resources that they’re accustomed to... They often find themselves in circumstances that are not conducive for their well-being. They find themselves homeless. And then the cycle starts all over again.”
But McPheeters stresses that not all homeless people are bad, and compassion has it’s place. “It’s important to recognize that homelessness... Is not, per se... A violation of the law. It doesn’t constitute a criminal act. Many people are homeless because of circumstances that are thrust upon them. That they literally had no control over. And we have... At Casper police department... Almost zero problem with persons who are homeless, under those auspices.”
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