With the new Harbor Bridge project bringing some new growth to the North Beach area, police have started cracking down on crime there. That is by requests from some developers and residents, who have asked police to focus on homeless camps and panhandling.
It was discussed during a big meeting yesterday, attended by Police Chief Mike Markle, several senior officers, North Beach developers and residents, and the Parks and Recreation Department.
Police say some of the crime in North Beach is tied to the homeless. The takeaway from that meeting is that now there will be a bigger police presence in the area.
For many visitors taking a stroll down North Beach, panhandling is a common sight.
"You come over here to look at the beach, and then you find homeless people coming over here asking you for stuff," Deborah Mendoza, who is visiting from out of state said.
Sometimes it causes security concerns.
"You don’t know what they can do, try to rob you. Especially if, he knew right away we weren’t from around here," Mendoza said.
That is exactly what North Beach developers and residents told police they do not want.
Police are responding to the community’s needs, taking steps to cut down on crime tied to the homeless.
One approach is increasing the police presence on North Beach.
"Directive patrol officers, our bike officers, and our utility vehicle officers…The USS Lexington has allowed us to house one of our UTVs over there, so they’ll be going out there daily and patrolling along the boardwalk," CCPD Commander Billy Breedlove said.
Another strategy is taking care of run down areas.
"We have our code enforcement officers that are over there, sweeping the North Beach area, identifying problem properties, places that might attract crime. Getting with those business owners to get them into compliance," Commander Breedlove said.
However not everyone’s on board with targeting the homeless. A handful of North Beach business owners frequently hire them to help out with various tasks.
One manager did not want to appear on camera, but did introduce KRIS 6 to some homeless men frequently hired by the business.
"Every time she pulls up with a lot of product, she needs help, we unload it for her, we take it up, we go ahead and put it up for her and everything like that," one man named James said.
That manager is against running all the homeless run out, but does support a greater police presence.
"We’re not out to make being homeless against the law," Commander Breedlove said. "All we look for is behaviors that are violating the law. And in some instances the homeless folks have been involved in some of the problems."
The police bike patrol units along with the UTV units will begin patrolling North Beach seven days a week starting on June 11.