TPD Carries Out Special Operations To Handle Rise In Homelessness
TULSA, Oklahoma - The 71st and Highway 69 corridor has always been known as a retail hub. However, shoppers might not realize that there is a large homeless encampment right behind the Lowe’s.
"Those set up with cardboard boxes and sometimes with furniture pallets, those set up like a structure here,” says Saide Music owner Kim Koch. “The issue that we have is that when we call the police - and they're very responsive - but when we call for them to come, the homeless, they keep coming."
Police say homeless encampments are a health risk, often filled with dirty needles, clothes, and human waste.
Captain Shellie Siebert says Operation Direct and Connect allows officers to get the homeless connected to resources.
With a rising number of homeless Tulsans and trespassing complaints - police said they have to be more aggressive.
“We have discovered people who are out with felony warrants, with misdemeanor warrants, who we would have repeated contact with so we are enforcing those ordinances on them,” says Siebert.
Corporal Brandon Davis has been patrolling these camps for weeks.
“To me, this is intolerable. This is someone's property; somebody owns this property and they don't want them here,” says Davis.
So far police say they've counted 188 homeless people and 117 camps.
Officers have made 40 arrests with seven of those as felonies.
Cook says she added “no trespass” signs, and just wants her customers to be safe.
"It does affect our business when I have children and families coming in here every day and there's a man urinating outside my door - that can't go on,” says Koch.
Police said they're most surprised at the rising number of homeless who come from out of state.
The public should find out what police are learning from their operation in the next few weeks.