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Homeless Outreach Team adding two new officers

Posted: 7:03 PM, Jul 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-17 21:14:30-04
Two officers with the Homeless Outreach Team survey an illegal camp site in Colorado Springs.

COLORADO SPRINGS — The City of Colorado Springs is adding more officers to its Homeless Outreach Team as it works to stop illegal camping.

Officers say they're handing out more tickets than they did last year for camping on public properties and creekside camping, but they're continuing to reach out to these folks hoping to make a difference in their lives.

"It is a very difficult and trying profession," said Officer Tim Kippel with Colorado Springs Police.
"Dealing with people that are in their most broken state."

Officer Tim Kippel is on the trail with his partner. They're part of the Homeless Outreach Team, scoping out illegal camps across the City of Colorado Springs.

CSPD tells News 5 last year officers handed out 20 tickets for camping in public areas.
So far this year, they've handed out 30.

"We are seeing more people on the street just from people passing through town," Kippel said.

When it comes to enforcing the creekside camping ban which went into effect about a year ago, the number of tickets have jumped from 39 to 136.

"Most of the tickets we've been issuing tend to fall into that category," Kippel explained.

It's a lot of workload for a team of four officers.

"In a city of almost 200 square miles, it is difficult to clean up illegal camps as they pop up," said Andy Phelps, the Homelessness Prevention and Response Coordinator with the City of Colorado Springs.

That's why the city's in the process of adding a couple more.

"Two more bodies will allow us to get to other parts of the cities," Kippel emphasized.
"[It] will allow us to get to other parts of the cities and be able to address complaints and concerns and illegal camping around town."

Officers hope by reaching more people, even if it leads to more tickets, it'll give folks an opportunity to tap into the resources available around them.

"We can't do everything for them," Kippel said.
"They have to make those steps."

Another pilot program launching tomorrow is an "Outreach Court" where a judge can give folks cited for homeless violations the option of paying a fine, or meeting with a case manager instead.

You can read the full Homeless Initiative here .