Setting the record straight on Boulder police overtime


By Max R. Weller

At a Boulder City Council meeting on 6/20/2017, during which there was discussion about the city’s Homelessness Strategy, Darren O’Connor of the Facebook group Boulder Rights Watch spoke publicly. He concluded his remarks by stating:

Finally, I want to voice my profound frustration at the choice of City staff in this process to unilaterally spend an additional $300,000 on the police, directing them to sweep the areas frequented by our homeless community. Closing down services and simultaneously subjecting homeless people to heightened police enforcement that effectively criminalizes being homeless would, if justice were to prevail, itself be criminal.”

This is incorrect — there are NO sweeps of homeless campsites anywhere in Boulder, CO such as those that occurred with great fanfare in Denver recently, in which the goal of authorities was to clean up the tons of trash and debris left behind by those camping illegally:

Seems reasonable to me.

No city anywhere in the civilized world will tolerate this for long.

But, what about the $300,000? I asked Boulder police face-to-face, and have just confirmed their reply by e-mail: $300,000 is the estimated overtime for increased SEASONAL police patrols on Pearl Street Mall, University Hill, the Civic Center area, and Boulder Creek Path in 2017. It was emphasized to me that SEASONAL increased patrols occur each year during the warm months (when many more people are out and about) and include officers walking and riding bicycles.

While I’m at it, let me deal with another unfounded rumor that concerns the arrests of homeless people by Boulder police. There are strict guidelines involved and it’s NEVER the preferred option for dealing with any homeless person in violation of various laws (Illegal Camping, Trespassing, Open Container of Alcohol, Smoking in Prohibited Areas, etc.) but some recalcitrant individuals are given repeated warnings to no effect or they have outstanding warrants (leaving arrest as the only alternative).

I’ve observed homeless people exercise very poor judgment and choose to escalate an otherwise routine contact with police, that would have been resolved peacefully but for the homeless person’s belligerent attitudes and actions.

In my 9+ years living as a homeless man in Boulder, CO and its environs, all but one of my contacts with law enforcement (including city police, county deputies, and state troopers) have been of the friendly “check welfare” type. Of course, I keep a low profile and have no interest in giving society the finger by becoming a serial petty offender.

The one time I had a grievance with a city police officer — Sam Carter of Mapleton Elk infamy — I followed the established procedure and filed a complaint with the Professional Standards Unit. It was dealt with promptly and resolved in my favor, with some changes made in how dispatchers deal with certain calls from the public. 

Through experience, I’ve learned that my trust in Boulder police has been well-founded.

I’ve also learned to critically examine anything the self-styled homeless advocates say; they absolutely do NOT advocate for the Homeless Philosopher.


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