Sacramento Mayor Calls for Law Enforcement Crackdown on Major Crimes in Homeless Encampments – CBS Sacramento

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants to crack down on major crimes coming out of homeless encampments, telling city council members this week that he’s “tired of taking the heat.”

“We need a new paradigm here, a new paradigm because I’m quite frankly tired, like all of you, I’m tired of taking all the heat. I’m fed up,” the mayor said at the end of this week’s city council meeting. “I’m tired of taking all the heat when we have no alternative and I’m tired of taking the heat because of the cleanliness and safety issue in our city.”

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Mayor Steinberg, who has taken a tough stance to get homeless people off the streets, said he was not changing his tune. Instead, he said it was a new approach with the same goal of protecting the homeless population by including law enforcement.

“I know my stance on this might surprise people, but it’s actually very consistent,” Steinberg said. “And while we’re trying to find safe places for people, we have to be very aggressive in getting people out of those encampments who are attacking others.”

But using police to fight crime in homeless encampments could be a tough sell.

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“Where it gets difficult is law enforcement coming into the camps untrained,” said Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness.

Erlenbusch says he agrees with the mayor’s intentions but worries about unintended consequences with officers re-traumatizing people in homeless encampments.

“Rather than officers coming in and scaring everyone off and not knowing why they’re there, like I said, it’s going to have to be well thought out. I appreciate the mayor raising this issue,” Erlenbusch said.

The mayor says the main responders to homelessness issues would be social workers, law enforcement responding to major crimes. He says he has already had talks with the chief of police and they will meet again next week.

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“I have to be very clear, I’m not talking about law enforcement taking on the homeless outreach function,” Steinberg said. “I’m talking about law enforcement playing a limited role.”

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