Police take different approach to clearing out homeless camp - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Police take different approach to clearing out homeless camp

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

People in a Waldo neighborhood said they've stopped going to a local park because of a growing homeless camp there. But police said they want to do more than just clear the camp out.

The area in question is Sunnyside Park, located at West 84th and Summit streets. Kansas City police said a lot of homeless people have been moving in and camping out there. Now they are making it a priority to find the people, move them out and get them the help they need.

"We've been working this project for most of the summer," said Officer Jason Cote.

Officers are making the rounds at the park in Waldo, where calls from some worried neighbors first brought police out.

"Initially when we moved here we spent a lot of time here, but we started to notice some things that I guess prevented us from coming here," Katie MacDonald said.

One of the biggest complaints has been a lot of homeless people camping out, so officers Cote and Charles Owen started paying closer attention to the area.

What they've seen has sometimes been alarming. A camp is set up on the edge of the park and the officers have been working on cleaning it out.

"There was a lot of women's underwear in here, it looked like second floor of Macy's," Cote said. "We found a lot of pornographic material, sex toys. We didn't find any people living in there at the time, but we found pillows, mattresses, blankets, things to show people had been living in there."

Once it gets dark, the homeless start coming back, and Thursday night the officers found a homeless vet they've met before.

"He was having some trouble finding a new place to live, we gave him some paperwork from the Salvation Army, gave him some phone numbers to call, tried to make some calls for him, offered to take him to a shelter, that sort of thing," Cote said.

That night they learn their work is helping. The vet met with an apartment manager, and has been approved. He was just waiting for help with the down payment from Catholic Charities.

It's a welcome sign that their mission is making strides.

"Our goal out here is not to just roll up into the park and throw a bunch of people in handcuffs and take them to jail. Our goal is to figure out why they're here, what caused it, and how we can best help them. If we take them to jail, issue them citations, they're going to bond out, they're going to go to court, they're going to come right back here," Cote said.

The officers have also been finding a lot of really sick homeless people in the park. Just last week they found a man with a really bad leg infection. Officers rushed him off to the hospital and the paramedics told them a, a day or two more, and he might have passed away.

It's situations like that that the officers said push them to do whatever they can to find the people and get them the services they need to get them back on their feet.

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