Park City police told woman upset ‘she has to look at’ homeless people
The Park City Police Department last week logged two calls about a person suspected to be homeless, cases reported by the same husband and wife who were apparently especially displeased with the sight of a homeless person in the Main Street core.
The police responded to two complaints by the husband and wife in quick succession midday on Tuesday, April 9. The first report was on Main Street while the other one was on nearby Park Avenue.
In the first case, reported at 12:37 p.m., the person called the police complaining “about a homeless man sleeping on a bench,” according to department logs. The person who contacted the police said “she is offended and would like to (talk) to an officer ASAP,” the logs indicated.
Less than a half hour later, at 1:05 p.m., police logs said a woman had called dispatchers repeatedly that day about the person.
“She is upset because she has to look at them,” the police logs said, describing that the caller wanted the department to contact her in person.
Phil Kirk, a police captain, said officers investigated the case reported at 12:37 p.m. on Main Street. An officer found a man suspected to be homeless on a bench along Main Street and had been asleep earlier. The police told the person who lodged the complaint officers determined the man on the bench had not committed a criminal act. The caller was upset with the determination, Kirk said.
In the later case, the same husband and wife contacted the police about the same person, who, according to the couple, was sleeping on a park bench. The police again explained the person was not committing a criminal act, Kirk said.
“We need to respect homeless people’s rights,” the captain said, adding, “In this case they weren’t violating any law.”
The police that morning, at 9:21 a.m., also received a complaint about a person who was believed to be homeless sleeping on a Main Street bench.
The Police Department in recent months has received a series of reports about sightings of people suspected to be homeless, including in the Main Street core. There are few services for the homeless in the Park City area. Police officers when they find a homeless person provide information about services offered by the Christian Center of Park City. The police also offer to transport a homeless person to a shelter in the Salt Lake Valley. The homeless typically decline a ride to the Salt Lake Valley shelter, the police have said.
The Police Department last week also indicated officers conducted sweeps of public places searching for homeless people. Some of the locations included the Town Lift garage, the Old Town transit center, the Main Street post office, public bathrooms in a small Main Street park and public bathrooms at City Park. The officers apparently did not find anyone. The sweeps were reported in the late-night and overnight hours.
Homelessness is not widespread in Park City and surrounding Summit County, but in recent years there have typically been at least several people considered to be homeless living in the area throughout much of the year.
The Police Department over the years has received reports of suspected homeless encampments in the hills surrounding neighborhoods or on land just off the Rail Trail. There are also ongoing reports at the transit center. Reports sometimes increase in the spring and summer as ski season employment ends and the warmer, drier weather makes living outdoors at least marginally less complicated compared to the cold, snowy winter. The executive director of the Christian Center of Park City, Rob Harter, recently indicated the homeless numbers could climb as summer arrives.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.