APD not issuing citations for illegally tenting inside a metropolis park

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The city of Albuquerque closed Coronado Park — in part — because it was overrun by homeless encampments. In doing so, city leaders said there was nothing they could have done to stop it spiraling out of control. But Target 7 has learned the city never did something that some say would have stopped the closure. “The solution is that we have to enforce the laws. The bottom line is that camping in the park is illegal,” said Councilman Louie Sanchez, a retired Albuquerque police officer. “When I was a police officer, we made arrests for petty crimes, which we now monitor and ignore.” Target 7 has combed through hundreds of subpoenas filed in Metropolitan Court since January until the park’s closure in August. Not once has anyone been charged with trespassing on the park. There was only one lead for the whole city, in which someone had invaded a city park. For months, homeless people camped overnight next to a sign outside the park. It states, “Anyone found on the premises from dark until dawn will be considered trespassing.” “It doesn’t shock me that there were very few subpoenas,” said Police Chief Harold Medina, who acknowledged that the department was the stopped issuing subpoenas in city parks. “Our officers have been reluctant to enforce misdemeanor laws. They didn’t know what to do. They were afraid of our use of force and the use of force that would get them into trouble.” Medina said the subpoenas were dropped in part due to the pandemic and the settlement agreement with the Justice Department. “We can’t just allow lawlessness around these camps,” said Armando Saldate, Denver’s director of public safety. “It creates real public safety concerns.” Denver faced a similar problem. The city was forced to close Civic Center Park in downtown Denver in September 2021. City leaders said the park used to be filled with a homeless camp, and they did what Coronado Park needed to do. – Switch off. “It was just awful, awful,” Saldate said. “The weed, everything, and then the overt drug use that came with it. It just made it livable. People don’t feel safe there. To counteract this, the city of Denver created this team of civilians to go around the city looking for people camping on sidewalks, alleys, and in city parks. They are called Street Enforcement Teams. You have the authority to write quotes. “Like trespassing, urinating in public, you know, camping are city camp ordinances, you know, those types of crimes that we see in that type of activity,” Saldate said. Target 7 followed the teams as they took to the streets in Denver. When they found someone camping in a van or in an alley, they mostly tried to get them to go to an animal shelter. It’s usually peaceful,” Saldate said. “People move and people get their stuff and either store it or they move. Enforcement is really our last resort. It’s something we don’t like doing.” Medina says he spoke to the Justice Department and tried to address concerns. He said officials had recently begun enforcing anti-walking and private property laws in the city. He said officials are still not enforcing city parks but plan to do so soon. During his interview with Target 7, the chief said he’ll look at what Denver has done to see if it could work in Duke City. We have slowly encouraged and pushed our officials to enforce some of these laws,” Medina said. “You brought us an idea and we are happy to look at it.”

The city of Albuquerque closed Coronado Park — in part — because it was overrun by homeless encampments. In doing so, city leaders said there was nothing they could have done to stop it spiraling out of control.

But Target 7 has learned the city never did something that some say would have stopped the closure.

“The solution is that we have to enforce the laws. The bottom line is that camping in the park is illegal,” said Councilman Louie Sanchez, a retired Albuquerque police officer. “When I was a cop, we arrested for the petty crimes that we’re seeing right now that are being ignored.”

Target 7 combed through hundreds of subpoenas filed in Metropolitan Court from January until the park’s closure in August. Not once has anyone been charged with trespassing on the park. There was only one tip for the entire city of someone trespassing on a city park.

For months, homeless people camped overnight next to a sign outside the park.
It states: “Anyone found on the premises from dark until morning is considered trespassing.”

“It doesn’t shock me that there were very few subpoenas,” said Police Commissioner Harold Medina, who acknowledged that the department had stopped issuing subpoenas in city parks. “Our officers have been reluctant to enforce misdemeanor laws. They didn’t know what to do. They were afraid of our use of force and use of force that might get them into trouble.”

Medina said the citations have been halted in part due to the pandemic and the settlement agreement with the Justice Department.

“We can’t just allow lawlessness around these camps,” said Armando Saldate, Denver’s director of public safety. “It creates real public safety concerns.”

Denver faced a similar problem.

The city was forced to close Civic Center Park in downtown Denver in September 2021. City leaders said the park used to be filled with a homeless camp, and they did what Coronado Park needed to do. – Shut it down.

“It was just awful, awful,” Saldate said. “The weed, everything, and then the overt drug use that came with it. It just made it livable. People don’t feel safe there.

To counteract this, the city of Denver created this team of civilians to go around the city looking for people camping on sidewalks, alleys, and in city parks. They are called Street Enforcement Teams. You have the authority to write quotes.

“Like trespassing, urinating in public, you know, camping are city camp ordinances, you know, those types of crimes that we see in that type of activity,” Saldate said.

Target 7 followed the teams as they took to the streets in Denver. When they found someone camping in a van or in an alley, they mostly tried to get them to go to an animal shelter.

It’s usually peaceful,” Saldate said. “People move and people get their stuff and either store it or they move. Enforcement is really our last resort. That’s something we don’t like to do.”

Medina says he spoke to the DOJ to address concerns. He said officials had recently begun enforcing anti-walking and private property laws in the city. He said officials are still not enforcing city parks but plan to do so soon.

During his interview with Target 7, the boss said he’ll look at what Denver has done to see if it could work in Duke City.

“We have been slowly encouraging and urging our officials to enforce some of these laws,” Medina said. “You brought us an idea and we are happy to look at it.”