Urban camping ban: Denver Police outline enforcement protocol

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Robert White.
The Denver Police Department has released the training bulletin that details how officers should approach violations of the city's new urban camping ban. Before the ordinance goes into effect May 29, officers are partnering with homeless outreach workers to prepare a department-wide response that de-prioritizes the status of homeless individuals and focuses on offering resources instead. Click through to read the manual in full.

On May 14, Denver City Council voted nine to four in favor of passing the ban, which Mayor Michael Hancock signed in the following days. But supporters of the ordinance previously added room into its schedule to allow for more extensive training, delaying its date of action until a week from today. During more than a month of discussions leading up the approval, Chief Robert White has repeatedly stressed that citations and arrests should be a last resort.

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Photo by Kelsey Whipple
On the outside looking in at a Denver City Council urban camping hearing.
"From a law enforcement perspective, the absolute, unequivocally last thing we want to do as a police department is arrest someone for a camping violation," DPD chief Robert White said during a panel presentation in front of the Inter-Neighborhood Council. He stressed a case-by-case approach to enforcement. In his words, "As a very last resort, we have the option of citing or arresting," but he stressed the intention to avoided it, especially in times when no city shelter space is available.

Although Councilwoman Robin Kniech pushed early on to have this goal included in the ordinance's official language, she backed down when city attorneys pointed out legal complications that could result. Instead, the training bulletin itself echoes White's language, urging that the ordinance "does not make the status of homeless illegal.... A person's status of being homeless is irrelevant to the determination of whether the ordinance is violated."

Page down to continue reading about the Denver Police plan to enforce the urban camping ban.

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