Park City Police Work With Christian Center To Provide Outreach To Homeless
This winter, Park City Police watch logs have reflected a number of incidents where police have interacted with people experiencing homelessness at transit centers or outside of businesses. Park City Police Capt. Phil Kirk says that doesn’t mean there are more homeless individuals—they’re probably just more visible.
Kirk says homelessness has become more of a year-round issue in Park City. Police will often see people camping during the summer, but the cold winter has likely brought people into town seeking warmer shelters.
The police department has an officer who acts as a liaison to people experiencing homelessness, establishing relationships between the police and individuals who need help. Officers are trained to distribute brochures with information about resources, and police also provide transportation to the Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City, should people want access to assistance.
At the same time, Kirk says, when they’re sleeping on private property or public property after hours, police still need to enforce the law.
“Sometimes, to be honest with you, they are trespassing on private property," Kirk said. "Our usual approach to dealing with that is to warn them several times, and then if they continue to violate that, then we will cite them.”
Kendal Lukrich is a new case manager with the Christian Center of Park City, where police often direct people who want help. She says people come in for items from the food pantry or for hygiene supplies. The Christian Center also has some emergency funds to use for motel vouchers, if someone needs a safe place to stay on a cold night; or to buy them a bus ticket to be closer to their support networks. But Lukrich says that’s a band-aid fix to root problems.
“I really want, as the new case manager, to really reach out to those individuals when they do come in," Lukrich says, "and try to spend some time if they're willing to see if we can help them more than that—get them into treatment, if they need that, or see if they could possibly get some kind of employment to work towards housing.”
Kirk expects to see more people setting up camp in open spaces as the weather warms up. The concern there, he says, is the potential for campfires to get out of control, as well as human waste affecting the natural ecosystem.