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City removes Kessler Park transient camps to combat crime, improve neighborhood livability

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, in cooperation with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, removed transient camps located in Kessler Park today. This operation was conducted to improve neighborhood livability and public safety in the City’s Northeast neighborhoods. City officials and Hope Faith Ministries gave individuals occupying the camps 48 hours to vacate prior to action, and also provided them with alternative shelter and resource options, such as clothing, personal care items, job training resources and shelter bed referrals.

The City’s Code of Ordinances, Section 50-107, prohibits placing, maintaining or occupying a tent on park property without the written consent of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. Section 62-89(a) prohibits dumping garbage, trash, rubbish, litter, waste or other disagreeable items in any public place, boulevard, parkway or public property.

In addition, residents in several Northeast neighborhoods requested that City officials address the transiency problem that has escalated over the last several years.

“The presence of these camps in Kessler Park is a deterrent to those who would like to enjoy the City’s parks and amenities in the area,” said KCPD Officer James Schriever. “While clearing the park, we discovered items used to manufacture methamphetamines, as well as items that indicated some of the individuals were possibly involved in the theft of scrap metals and catalytic converters. Trash was extensive throughout the area as well.”

According to police records, many illegal activities take place in the area surrounding Kessler Park, including trespassing, fires in vacant homes, public intoxication, drug possession and prostitution.

On Wednesday, January 16th prior to any action Hope Faith Ministries contacted the subjects and offered them services as well as gave them notice of 48 hours to vacate.

“We understand the plight of the homeless and the need for homeless persons to have access to resources,” said City Manager Troy Schulte. “Kansas City has an excellent network of providers who work to ensure that the City’s homeless have basic needs. However the problem is exasperated by well-meaning organizations, other than established providers, that feed and clothe transients who live in the parks and enable those who do not wish to take advantage of the support services that the community provides.”

This informal support system encourages the establishment of camps in areas that are easily accessible for these organizations to distribute supplies and creates an environment that is unsafe for both the transients and the neighbors. Unlike established providers like Hope Faith Ministries, ReStart and City Union Mission, there are no rules to follow, no required programs and thus no incentive to participate.

In the next few months, the City Manager’s Office will begin an education process to end the support of transient camps by faith-based institutions and social service agencies that do not work through those providers that are recognized by the City.

For media inquiries and more information, please contact Kimiko Gilmore, City Manager’s Office, at 816-513-6558.


City News Releases - 2013

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