Military and Police

‘Homelessness’ Worsening Social Issues Such as Crime, Social Justice, De-Policing and More

“Homeless” topics are converging and exacerbate myriad social issues. But first, we must address a less-discussed aspect of the so-called homeless—the word itself. It’s a word manipulation tactic at which the left is so damned adept. It’s obviously adept because even many on the right buy into it.

When I was a kid and adult before I was a cop, the mainstream called people living on the streets bums or maybe vagrants, vagabonds, or hobos. When I became a cop, the mainstream called people living on the streets street-people or transients. By the time I retired, the mainstream was calling people living on the streets…homeless.

Why homeless? Well, it’s because bum, while it may be accurate, is by definition derogatory. Transient, while also accurate, doesn’t evoke sympathy. However, homeless ascribes an automatic victim status and imbues a certain amount of virtue to a person regardless of their responsibility for their situation. The “homeless” are just victims of circumstance—of society, not of their own poor choices. So, while bum seems accurate and homeless describes only one ancillary consequence of one’s behavior, I’ll use transient, which is accurate but also seems neutral.

The mainstream used to describe as homeless domestic violence victims, people laid off during a bad economy, people who’d incurred devastating medical bills, or a family whose house had burned down. In nearly all cases, for responsible people who suffer homelessness, it is temporary. These are true victims and extracting themselves out of their misfortune is virtuous. But to conflate drug and alcohol addicted criminals with the truly homeless is an insult to the true victims of unavoidable circumstance.

So-called homelessness produces a convergence of social issues: crime, incivility, and de-policing, just to name a few. Crime is rampant wherever transient camps infect an area. I don’t know a parent who uses parks in Seattle who hasn’t found discarded needles while trying to enjoy the parks with their children. In fact, many parents tell me they just stopped going, surrendering the parks they pay for to the drug-addled criminals and derelicts illegally camping in them.

Speaking of needles, one cop told me he felt the needle “exchange” program is a misnomer. Yes, last year, San Francisco handed out 400,000 needles per month. A whopping 4.5 million per year, costing taxpayers $523,363. But the San Francisco Health Department estimates they had about 246,000 turned in (and it’s in their interest to estimate high).

That leaves some 154,000 needles out there for cops, firefighters, EMTs, medics, or trash collectors, or you or your kids to step on. 154,000 each month, like nests of vipers waiting to inject their deadly poison into unsuspecting, innocent victims!

Oddly, while California recently banned law-abiding people from using plastic straws at restaurants, San Francisco alone continues to hand out those 4.5 million needles annually. Oh, and what are the syringes those needles protrude from made of? Plastic, right?

I’ve seen several cops and know of even more who’ve gotten needle pokes. Not funny.

Some officers tell me they can’t remember the last time Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes prosecuted a crime. Cops continually receive “decline to prosecute” notices in their in-boxes with no real explanation for the declines.

Reportedly, in 2017, Holmes prosecuted a total of 7 people for illegally camping—yes, more than a half-dozen. Remember, there are at least 400 illegal camps sites and thousands of illegal campers. Impressive prosecutor, right there.

Tongue-twister: How many People would Pothead Pete Prosecute if a Prosecutor would Prosecute People? I guess the answer is, seven.

You know the old criminal justice cliché about people “slipping through the cracks” and getting away with a crime? Well, it seems in some cities, when a person “slips through the cracks,” it now means he or she actually gets prosecuted.

The transient problem is nationwide. Still, in the U.S., it seems we’re hearing more about the issue from west coast cities such as Los Angeles, with its miles-long stretches of transient camps. San Francisco, Portland, OR., and Seattle are often in the news due to their ineffective social policies ostensibly intended to “end homelessness” yet having the opposite effect.

San Francisco has poop maps (Yes, I said that). While researching, the Bing.com search box auto-populated with the suggestion, “Poop Map App.” While I didn’t find an app, I did find an interactive website that updates the locations of human feces and discarded hypodermic needles in the city.

I’m not sure about L.A. or Portland, but Seattle doesn’t have a poop map —not that it couldn’t use one— but it does have illegal camp maps. The maps show the locations of some 400 “homeless” camp areas. Not 400 individual campers but 400 campsites populated with multiple individuals. Each generates its own crime, social services, and hygiene problems.

One cop told me, “The city will happily collect $136 if a cop cites you for not cleaning up your dog’s poop. But city won’t let cops enforce, or if they do enforce won’t prosecute, these filthy humans for doing something so disgusting the city won’t let a dog get away with it.”

There are also problems with “homeless” people illegally parking their camper/RVs all over these cities. What was former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s solution? He created “safe parking lots.” You know, so these lawbreakers had a secure place from which to do their drugs and prostitution and return to with loot from their car prowls, shoplifts, burglaries, and robberies. At least, they were now parked legally. Good job, Mr. Mayor.

Just this morning, I heard on the radio about transients stealing utilities from businesses and residences near illegal transient camps. Caller after caller told about the host of water and electrical thefts, damage to spigots, pipes, and electrical outlets. One business owner said several customers have told him they’ve removed the pipes and faucets from the outside their houses. Shouldn’t this embarrass the leftist powers-that-be? It doesn’t.

So, what are the police doing about this rampant lawlessness? Nothing! Well, that’s not quite true. L.A., San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle cops are doing what mayoral, city attorney, and city council policies allow them to do. Hell, even when they try to enforce laws against transients, city attorneys or D.A.s just decline to prosecute.

A Seattle police officer sent me a text: “‘Crimes’ don’t get prosecuted, cannot remember the last time city attny DID NOT decline to prosecute for one reason or another. Always an excuse, and it’s the cop’s fault of course. Bottom line homeless have a free reign, they camp and defecate where ever. A young tenant told me once ‘I feel I’m a hostage in my own condo, and afraid to get out,’ talking about lawless wild encampments.”

He’s not an anomaly. Yesterday, I had to go to Seattle to do my annual shooting qualification course to maintain my LEOSA credentials. After fighting the horrendous Democrat-caused traffic to get to the gun range south of the city, my reward for qualifying was to have to go to police headquarters to get my new I.D. card—in downtown Seattle.

After finally finding a parking space several blocks from HQ, I trudged down to the high rise at 5th Ave. and Cherry St. On my way, about half a block from SPD HQ and Seattle Municipal Court, were scenes straight out of New Delhi, India, or Bangladesh. Not nearly as sweeping or vast but pockets of squalor that look identical. In a word, horrible! But, at least, in many of those places, they’re working to eliminate such conditions. In America’s leftist-run cities, they’re working diligently to expand them.

Democrat city leaders have said for years they are trying to reduce “homelessness” while doing the things that make a city attractive to more transients. While on the job, I often told people “Seattle is like the person who keeps throwing birdseed all over the grass and then complains when the lawn is saturated with bird crap.” Stop spreading the seeds—stop making the city a magnet for irresponsible people who couldn’t care less about other people. There’s a reason some of these people call Seattle, Freeattle.

Leftists declare all people have a natural right to food, shelter, and medical care. Well, answer this: How can one person have a natural right to something that has to be provided by another person? No person has a right to another person’s labor or property.

A few years back, Seattle began deploying Navigation Teams to deal with transients. The city created these teams to usurp the cops’ ability to enforce the city’s no-camping laws by removing illegal campers and arresting those who would not obey orders to leave, as officers used to do.

(Credit: Facebook/Evergreen State News)

No, when cops go to clear an illegal camp, now, several other city agencies must accompany them—to offer transients services, which the vast majority decline. Transients fight removal and turn down help because they don’t want to follow the rules at the shelters. Like not using drugs or alcohol.

The officer told me the navigation teams have doubled since the city created them, taking even more cops away from answering 911 calls. I heard this morning that one private social services organization has had to stop serving its normal three meals a day at one of their facilities due to the increased crime caused by people loitering in the area between meals. They’ve had to cancel breakfast, serve sack lunches at a different location, and have limited their sit-down services to the evening meal.

Even tourists from New York City are surprised at the level of Seattle’s street crimes. According to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat, “During a recent 15-month period the cops here gave out 850 citations for open drinking, camping on sidewalks or peeing or pooping in public. But more than 750 of those tickets were ignored.” He says Seattle has a “‘do as you please’ policy.”

Westneat continued, “Even people who have defaulted on three or more such nuisance citations—suggesting they have serious problems—are not facing any legal threat from the city. The city attorney last week said he would be open to charging them. But he hasn’t, and clearly has zero enthusiasm for doing so.” Note: Danny Westneat is not known as a conservative writer.

This is a part of a national leftist trend to decriminalize crime. In fact, in Suffolk County, Massachusetts (which includes Boston) there’s a Democrat, Rachael Rollins, running for county district attorney. If she wins, among other changes, she wants to make shoplifting under a certain dollar amount essentially an infraction with no jail time connected to any punishment.

Under Rollins, cops would no longer make arrests for “non-violent” crimes. For Ms. Rollins, non-violent crime includes Resisting Arrest (Ka-Boom! That was my head exploding off my shoulders). Since she’s running unopposed, here’s your new D.A., Boston P.D. Good luck, bothers and sisters.

I listened to Ms. Rollins during an interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight; she seems like a pleasant person. But her leftist philosophy is extreme. I mean, she even expressed a dislike for the close relationship between the DA’s office and the police. You know, the people who arrest criminals and the people who prosecute those criminals. Weird, eh?

The left is doing all of this in the name of that amorphous-sounding term, social justice. They are working hard to replace the equal justice our American system demands with the social justice system that would lead to America’s demise. Demise, yes, because social justice leads to de-policing which leads to the demise of law-abiding society.

What officer wants to risk arresting someone, especially if he or she is known to fight with the police, if the cop knows that person won’t go to jail for resisting arrest? Rollins didn’t say it, but this is just more restorative justice nonsense, which is a solid leftist platform plank.

The truth is, the “homelessness crisis,” as the left defines it, is one of the easiest of all social problems to solve: Enforce the law. Ask any street cop, and that’s what he or she will tell you. But why would the left want to ask those who do the job how the job should be done?

Enforcing the laws equally would be a great way to solve the issue. But it’s better for the left if people dissolve into a multi-tiered social justice system where they’re not arrested in the first place.

There’s one more vital “homeless” issue we can’t overlook. Does the left want to solve the problem? Or, even more accurately, why would the left want to solve the problem? Without these perpetual, leftist-created social issues to run on during elections and re-elections, what could the modern Democratic Party possibly offer American voters other than anger and hate?

If you’re searching for the answer, it’s another easy solution: Nothing!

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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