Police Working To Resolve Issues, Help Tulsans In Homeless Camps

Wednesday, October 13th 2021, 4:49 pm


Tulsa Police said they are grappling with a terrible homeless problem in the city. There are camps all over, and it is impacting businesses and people living nearby.

Right behind the running trails at 91st and Riverside, there are at least 10 homeless camps, and they stretch for miles.

"Right now, it's in shambles," said Sgt. Luke Flanagan with the Tulsa Police Bike and Riverside patrol division.

Next to the trails, behind the trees, an entire community is hiding. Camp after camp are just a few hundred feet from each other, all the way from Riverside Drive to Bixby.

"We are out here daily, especially our day shift officers," Flanagan said. "They start their shift with disturbances and theft in that area, and a lot of that is leading us back to here."

Flanagan said the homeless situation has gotten much worse over the past year.

"We're thinking there's at least a couple dozen, up to 30 camps up here," Flanagan said.

He said many of these people are criminals or sex offenders, many of them have mental illnesses, many do drugs, and some are simply down on their luck and struggling to find housing, so the cycle continues.

"There's a lot of folks here that aren't bad people," Flanagan said. "They're people that can't get up and out of their situation. A lot don't have ID's."

But the camps are creating big problems, like theft, vandalism and harassment at local businesses, trash everywhere, and even wildlife damage.

News On 6 talked to Mark, a homeless man who didn't want his face shown. He said he's from Tulsa and has been living at the camp for four months.

"A lot of people want to get out of this life," Mark said.

He said he's used to living this way now, even though he wants to find housing.

"Everyone's from a different place, usually out of town," Mark said.

Sgt. Flanagan said they're working with groups like Housing Solutions and Family and Children's Services to get people help. They've also arrested many people.

He said it's a deep-rooted problem and the best solution is accessible housing.

"We're going to keep doing the best that we can," Flanagan said.


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