Petaluma PD Challenged by Rise in Homeless Encampments

Petaluma PD Challenged by Rise in Homeless Encampments

PETALUMA – A Petaluma Police Department “News Release” issued on Saturday, February 14 cites the challenging problems facing the department with the unabated growth of homeless encampments within the city. The release suggests that there is a public threat to health and safety as the camps are adversely impacting the environment and increasing criminal activities. The report states, “… the problem is more serious than officers have seen in 20 years.”

The United Anglers of Casa Grande do a lot of important work (Facebook)

The United Anglers of Casa Grande do a lot of important work (Facebook)

Over 100 camps have been cleaned up in the past, and a recent survey located 34 active encampments within the city. The growing numbers of camps make it difficult for officers to patrol, and their existence is a haven for lawlessness and pollution. Some of the crimes associated with recent encampments include illegal narcotics, alcohol, weapons, stolen property, sexual assaults, theft and vandalism. The unlawful camps are also spoiling the work of the United Anglers of Casa Grande High School and their efforts to save native and endangered steelhead trout.

The Petaluma Police Department is challenged by the availability of time for its patrol forces. The reduction of 15 officer positions due to budget cuts, along with an increase in calls for service, forces the department into a “reactive mode” rather than a preferable proactive ability to respond to the growing problem.

Officers have been periodically deployed to address the problem when overtime and schedules allow for it. The Department has also applied for grants to fund a full time officer to address the issue over the long term.

The latest cleanup operation was conducted last week when officers went to dozens of locations and contacted seven people in the process. Two were warned to clean up the area or face charges, while five others were arrested and released on citations.

At a camp near Cedar Grove Parkway on city-owned property the following arrests were made:

Nickolas Walker, a 29-year-old transient from Illinois, and Tammy Rowell, a 33-year-old transient, also from Illinois, were arrested for illegally occupying land and dumping and disposing waste into a waterway. Officers on scene said that in the short amount of time they have been here they have created one of the worst sites that they have seen.

Jesus Carillo, a 28-year-old transient from Petaluma ran from officers and was found with a dagger in his pocket when he was caught. He also lied about whom he was. He was charged with resisting arrest, providing a false identity to officers, and for possession of an illegal weapon.

A stolen bicycle was recovered.

A stolen bicycle was recovered.

Todd Naus, a 30-year-old transient from Petaluma was arrested for trespassing, illegally occupying lands and a violation of probation. He was found to be responsible for the infamous hot tub tree house on the Cedar Grove property that has been generating a high volume of calls and complaints by residents in the area. Naus has priors for illegal camping and was in violation of probation. He was later booked into county jail.

The last arrest of the day was near Schollenberger Park at a large encampment that has previously been found to have booby traps set to injure anyone who enters. Officers contacted Ervin Osman, a 28-year-old transient from Spokane, Washington. He was arrested for active warrants and was found to be in possession of a stolen bicycle from a recent theft in Petaluma. The $1300 Cannondale mountain bike was stolen from English Street earlier this month. The bike was returned to the victim and Osman was booked at county jail.

Petaluma PD Challenged by Rise in Homeless Encampments was last modified: February 17th, 2015 by admin
Categories: Sonoma

About Author

Tom Walsh

Tom Walsh is a Petaluma based freelance writer whose work is published on bay area AOL Patch sites. His prior experience includes writing for utility and recycling industry publications and newsletters.