Fort Worth police crackdown on homeless on Lancaster Ave.

Crackdown on homeless in Fort Worth

FORT WORTH - It started about a month ago, or at least that's when Lee Gardner first noticed it.

The 53-year-old says it had everyone on Lancaster Avenue talking.

Fort Worth police recently started an aggressive crackdown targeting some of the corridor's homeless population that gather on sidewalks and under overpasses.

"That's not going to solve the situation," Gardner said. "The situation is going to be the same."

A few weeks ago, WFAA saw at least a dozen officers from the department's central command zipping up and down the busy avenue to write tickets for offenses like loitering and blocking a sidewalk.

Gardner, who says he's been homeless since 2013, can't remember such a widespread effort before. He said he has seen officers return several times to do the same. Multiple infractions can easy top $300.

"What's the purpose of writing a ticket if a guy doesn't have any money," he said. "How's he going to pay it?" 

A police spokesman said at the time it was part of an "enforcement detail."

Commander J.M. Sparrow, who oversees the area, also said then it was part of an effort to help the area.

He elaborated on Wednesday, saying the enforcement handed out close to 30 citations.

"That was just to kickstart a larger effort here," he said. "We did it once, and then we have guys on patrol in that area a lot. We're trying to help."

Sparrow emphasized that he has implemented an additional two-man team that's now solely dedicated to responding to more frequent calls from security personnel, shelters and business owners on Lancaster.

He said at this point, there weren't plans for additional, larger crackdowns to issue citations.

Two homeless advocates tied to local shelters told WFAA the tactic was part of a wider approach in the works to fix the area's lingering problems.

Earlier this year, we reported on concerns from Eastside residents fed up with homeless encampments that they blamed for a rise in petty crime and other issues.

The city said then that its code department spent nearly $30,000 to move out the camps, but clusters of tents are still easy to find in the area, especially as evening approaches. 

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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