Police Target Placerville Homeless Camps, Arrest 2

Courtesy Placerville Police Department

Police, mental health and homeless outreach officials dismantled more than a dozen Placerville homeless camps Wednesday, arresting two people and referring 10 to outreach services.

Courtesy Placerville Police Department.

Courtesy Placerville Police Department.

The Placerville Police Department, city workers, mental health officials and representatives from the Community Resource Center ventured into areas of known homeless encampments, after what police said was weeks of warnings about the illegal camps.

“Our aim is to balance outreach and enforcement efforts when dealing with habitual transient offenders often afflicted with mental health and drug and alcohol dependencies,” a press release quoted Police Chief Scott Heller as saying. “I believe we struck that balance during today’s operation working with our community partners and were able to make an overall impact for the better.”

In all, police dismantled 14 Placerville homeless camps located along Broadway, Placerville Drive, Ray Lawyer Drive, and on the El Dorado Trail from Mosquito Road to past Schnell School, according to the press release.

Police say Daniel Carpenter, 36, fled a camp on private property near Ray Lawyer and Placerville drives when officers approached, leaving behind a loaded, sawed-off shotgun and a scoped rifle. Carpenter was found nearby and police discovered he was a registered sex offender with a no-bail warrant for his arrest, the press release says.

A shotgun and rifle recovered during Wednesday's operation. Courtesy Placerville Police Department.

Weapons recovered during Wednesday's operation. Courtesy Placerville Police Department.

Caleb Stroud, 20, fled a camp near Broadway and was located at another along the El Dorado Trail, where police realized he had a warrant out for his arrest, according to the press release. He was also found with burglary tools, police said.

Placerville has been wrestling with how to best deal with its homeless population in the past. Hangtown Haven, a sanctioned camping area for homeless residents, was closed last fall. And the city council in December voted to outlaw public camping and aggressive panhandling. A winter series of shelters has homeless residents staying at a rotating group of churches, but that program ends at the end of March.

“This March when the shelter closes there will be between 50 and 70 homeless people that will have no place to go,” Camino resident Janis Carney wrote in a letter to the Mountain Democrat. She said they will likely be forced to find somewhere to camp, which could put them at the end of scrutiny for operations like Wednesday’s.

Courtesy Placerville Police Department.

Courtesy Placerville Police Department.

Police said while Wednesday’s operation targeting Placerville homeless camps achieved its goal of shutting many of them down, lots of trash was left behind “simply due to a temporary overload of available cleanup resources.

“The Police Department is planning a follow up operation with City Crews and interested volunteers to assist with the trash cleanup effort,” police said.

Property gathered from the camps was booked into evidence, and can be returned by appointment.

Anyone with questions about the homeless camps or wanting to report a camp is asked to call Sgt. Brody Jordan at 530-642-5210.

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