• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 13s

Police work to disperse camps, connect homeless to services

By KTVA Alaska 7:24 AM May 9, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

They can be dangerous and dirty, but for too many in Anchorage, homeless camps are the only option.

A day after municipal leaders praised their progress with a 10-year plan to reduce Anchorage’s homeless population, the Anchorage Police Department’s Community Action Policing team offered an inside look at the work that still needs to be done.

As the weather in Anchorage warms up, police said more and more homeless camps are popping up.

“This is a wildlife area, this is a green belt and they’re leaving garbage and fecal matter in the area and it’s just not good for our land,” said senior officer Will Cameron.

Cameron, along with senior officer Nathan Mitchell is a member of the CAP team -  a group of just 4 officers tasked with taking down all of the homeless camps in Anchorage, one tent or teepee at a time.

“Instead of coming out and being the big bad cops arresting people, we try to come out and connect them with resources to see if they can help themselves,” Cameron said.

But telling people with little to lose that they need to pack up what they have and move isn’t always a walk in the park.

“It’s dangerous, even for the police to come in,” Cameron said. “We don’t like contacting people that have knives and hatchets and axes.”

Aside from items that could be used as weapons, another serious concern is open burning. Mitchell said that was made apparent Thursday by a pile of smoldering ashes sitting just a few feet away from an area in the woods that burned down due to an open burn at another homeless camp.

“This stuff lights up and burns real quick,” Cameron said. “The next thing you know, you’ve got a forest fire going on.”

The CAP team said the municipality’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, now in its ninth year, has been working.

“There were a lot more than there is now, I would say probably a couple hundred camps,” Cameron said. “Now, I would say there are 20-25 hardcore groups of people that just don’t want to change.”

But they said more must be done to address Anchorage’s homeless population.

“We all have to work together on this program and this problem to find a solution and a resource,” Cameron said.

Until that happens, officers said they’ll continue combing Anchorage’s woods in search of the souls they said have fallen — hard — through the cracks.

Officers said it is never a good idea for the public to approach a homeless camp. Instead, they said people should take down the location and details of a camp and alert police.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Cold climate house cuts costs in the Arctic

    by Heather Hintze on May 24, 22:53

    Driving around Anaktuvuk Pass, you’ll notice a home that’s a little out of the ordinary. The beige home looks like it came out of the Flintstones cartoon but has Jetsons’ technology. “The exterior of the house is a spray-applied membrane. It’s a Rhino liner, so it’s the same liner used in trucks. It’s really durable, […]

  • News

    Anchorage doctor accused of overprescribing painkillers to patients

    by Shannon Ballard on May 24, 22:45

    An Anchorage doctor has been accused by the Alaska State Medical Board of overprescribing painkillers to his patients. “Dr. Mahmood Ahmad, M.D., poses a clear and immediate danger to the public health and safety if he continues to practice medicine,” the board said when they suspended Ahmad’s medical license earlier this month. The investigation into Ahmad […]

  • News

    Biologist says kings aren’t early, fishermen are

    by Bonney Bowman on May 24, 22:16

    King salmon have returned to Ship Creek and fishermen are taking advantage of what some describe as an early run. Dustin Slinker, owner of The Bait Shack, said an angler landed the first king on May 13. He scrambled to set up shop two days later as he watched more and more people catch fish. […]

  • Crime

    Goose Creek DOC officer charged with drug distribution conspiracy

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 24, 21:41

    A Department of Corrections officer assigned to Goose Creek Correctional Complex was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession of a controlled substance. DOC officials contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this month when they began to suspect one of their officers, Adam Spindler, was distributing drugs to inmates at GCCC, according to an […]

  • News

    Combating heroin on the Kenai: The Soldotna survivor

    by Sierra Starks on May 24, 19:14

    Tammi Charlesworth passes by the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center on her drive to work six days a week. The 35-year-old spent about two years there, serving time on a forgery charge. “I stole from my dad,” said Charlesworth. “And he turned me in, hoping to save my life.” Prior to her time at Hiland, she […]

  • News

    How to identify an unmarked law enforcement vehicle

    by Alexis Fernandez on May 24, 19:07

    A driver the Anchorage Police Department initially thought was pretending to be a police officer turned out to be a federal law enforcement agent in an unmarked SUV. It took APD three days to figure out the SUV belongs to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) because it didn’t pop up in […]

  • News

    Anchorage, Sitka Cooperative Extension Service offices to close

    by Shannon Ballard on May 24, 18:34

    The University of Alaska Fairbanks plans to shut down two of its Cooperative Extension Service Offices. UAF officials say the Sitka and Anchorage offices will close by the end of October. The cooperative extensions around the Alaska rely heavily on state funding and the program is about to be hit with a $1 million cut. The […]

  • News

    Annual plant sale underway at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 24, 17:48

    It’s a plant sale some people wait all year for: the annual Hiland Mountain Correctional Center plant sale started Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. but prison officials say cars were lining up much earlier than that. The sale is a chance for female inmates to show off what they’ve been growing all year in the […]