Simi Valley Police Department’s Community Liaison Officers Begin to Cleanup Illegal Camps

The Simi Valley Police Department’s Community Liaison Officer Program (CLO) continued in its ongoing efforts to address the issue of homelessness simi.valley.camp.1in the City of Simi Valley on February 21, here 2015, drugs by launching a cleanup effort at two of the illegal camps that have been established within city limits. The first two camps that were identified for cleanup were known to exist by the police department for approximately 10 years. The Simi Valley Police Department partnered with Waste Management in Simi Valley who offered their equipment, personnel, and services to assist with the police department’s cleanup efforts.

During the week of February 16, 2015, notices were posted at both illegal camps notifying those individuals who were known to live there that they had 72 hours to vacate the property or risk criminal prosecution. When the CLO Officers and Waste Management personnel arrived to clean up the camps, everyone that was known to reside there had followed the legal posting to vacate. No one was detained or arrested during this cleanup event.

In July 2014, the Simi Valley City Council unanimously approved a plan to clear out illegal encampments of homeless people and for the city to pay for the cleanup. The police department’s Community Liaison Officer Program (CLO) was given responsibility to carry out the plan. The cleanup efforts by the police department’s CLO Program are in direct response and in support of the City Council plan. The CLO Program knows that there are several homeless camps within the city limits. Although it will take several weeks to remove them all, the CLO’s will ultimately have them removed. If the CLO’s learn that new camps have been established the occupants will be arrested and the camps will be removed.

With the cleanup of the illegal camps beginning, the CLO Program wants to advise citizens and the local business community that the removal of simi.valley.camp.4homeless camps can lead to a more visible presence of homeless individuals in the city. This temporary increase is driven by displacing homeless individuals from their illegal camps while they look for a new location to live. The CLO Program is committed to their ongoing efforts to eliminate the criminal activity that is associated with homelessness. If anyone experiences aggressive soliciting, annoying behavior, and criminal activity or is concerned about the welfare of an individual who appears to be homeless, you are encouraged to call the police department at (805) 583-6950. If what you are experiencing is a life threatening emergency then call 9-1-1. If anyone knows or learns of a homeless camp you are encouraged to call the Community Liaison Officer Program at (805)583-6161 so that the camp can be removed.

 

Background:

The first step toward the police department’s restorative policing approach concerning the illegal camps and to find more permanent solutions to simi.valley.camp.2resolve the issues associated with homelessness were initiated in September 2014. Officers from the CLO Program partnered with the Samaritan Center, Lutheran Social Services and Ventura County Behavioral Health to begin a new approach to address the homeless individuals in Simi Valley. Through this community partnership along with the CLO’s restorative policing approach, a strong effort was initiated that encouraged and guided those homeless individuals who generate the greatest number of citizen complaints and resource drain to the police department to engage in the social services that are available to them. These services can assist with drug and alcohol addiction, mental health related issues, basic medical care and veteran benefits to name just a few and are available to them if they are willing to follow through with the requirements.

Law enforcement, city officials and social service organizations recognize that the illegal homeless camps are often a contributing factor to the illegal activity that some homeless individuals do and that if left unaddressed, can act as an enabling tool to those who resist opportunities offered through social service organizations. The individuals connected to enforcement events should not be confused with those homeless individuals who do not violate the law or cause complaints from the community. The police department’s CLO program does not engage those homeless individuals who are law abiding citizens.

Through a restorative policing approach, the CLO’s and their community partners have experienced success with some individuals who have opted tosimi.valley.camp.3 take positive steps toward sobriety, addressing their mental health related concerns by working with Ventura County Behavioral Health Department and initiating their Veterans Administration benefits. Although the CLO Program has had some success, the large percentage of the Simi Valley homeless population remains resistive to changing their living conditions. Over the course of 4 ½ months resistive individuals were notified regularly that they would be arrested for illegal camps or trespassing and that the camps would be removed. The February 5, 2015, enforcement event that resulted in the arrest of 28 individuals was necessitated by the resistance of those individuals who were unwilling to comply with the advisement. The cleanup effort is the latest in a series of steps that the CLO Program has initiated towards those who continue to be resistive.

The police department’s Community Liaison Officer Program is committed to their restorative policing approach and is also committed to assisting those who are interested in changing their homeless way of life. The CLO program would like to encourage anyone who is currently experiencing homelessness and are in need of assistance, to contact the Community Liaison Officers at (805) 583-6161 or the following centers:

Samaritan Center: 280 Royal Avenue in Simi Valley or call (805)579-9166
Lutheran Social Services: 80 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks or call (805) 497-6207

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press_release_iconSimi Valley Police Department

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