• 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

    Native art fair draws crowds to Dena’ina Center

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 23, 22:27

    The Alaska Federation of Natives convention brings Alaska Native leaders from around the state, but it also brings crafters and artisans. For many people, the Alaska Native Customary Art Fair is one of their favorite parts of the AFN convention. This year, the selection is better than ever. Hundreds of booths line the first floor […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Oct. 23

    by Carlos Faura on Oct 23, 22:22

    Kenai Peninsula – There will be isolated rain and snow on the Kenai with scattered showers from Anchorage north. Southeast - Expect rain to the south and a shower or two for the northern areas, with snow at pass levels. Interior & North Slope – It will be mostly dry with a flurry or two, […]

  • News

    Totem pole artist carves out a piece of history

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 23, 21:28

    A totem pole isn’t just a work of art for Tommy Joseph; it’s carving out a little piece of history. “That’s what a totem pole is all about is I’m telling someone’s story,” he said. “Everyone has a story.” On a warm morning in Sitka, he methodically chips away at a 10-foot cedar pole. He […]

  • Politics

    Show Me the Money: Marijuana Legalization

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 21:00

      Show Me the Money: Alaska’s Fiscal Future Four issues that could change the fortunes of Alaska… Four issues that have divided us… Four issues that will unite us as we go to the polls Nov. 4th… How can you prosper in the ever-changing landscape of living life in the 49th state?   Oct. 9 @ 9 […]

  • News

    Investigators focus on pilot error in deadly 2013 plane crash

    by Dave Leval on Oct 23, 20:22

    It’s been more than a year since two people died in a plane crash at Merrill Field. Rob Lilly and his girlfriend, Jessi Nelsen, died when they tried to land after taking off from Wasilla Aug. 24, 2013. The second phase of a federal investigation into the crash found no mechanical errors with the plane. […]

  • News

    Feds to bring indoor plumbing to Alaska village

    by Associated Press on Oct 23, 15:49

    A remote Alaska village where only half the homes have indoor plumbing is among rural communities nationwide to receive a share of more than $352 million in grants and loans for upgrades to rural water and wastewater systems. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Alaska’s $12.6 million share of the funding from the U.S. Department of […]

  • News

    Governor signs bill to recognize Native languages

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 23, 15:39

    The number of official languages in the State of Alaska has gone from one to 21 with a single stroke of a pen. Gov. Sean Parnell signed HB216 in front of a cheering crowd at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention Thursday morning. The bill recognizes 20 Native languages, and adds them to English as […]

  • Crime

    Police: Pit bull death ‘extreme’ animal cruelty

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 15:17

    Police are asking for help investigating the death of a dog found hanging from a tree near the University of Alaska Anchorage earlier this month. A man walking in the woods near East 20th Avenue and Rosemary Street made the gruesome discovery Oct. 10, according to a Thursday afternoon statement from the Anchorage Police Department. […]