DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The long standing policy of prosecuting the homeless for trespassing is the subject of a new debate on Dallas.
Some say it’s inhumane. Others argue it’s the only way to stop harassment.
The city made more 9,000 arrests for criminal trespassing since 2015, according to Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston and Mark Clayton (who have publicly expressed opposition to what they call criminalizing poverty.)
They want it to stop and say it’s not working.
The council members want the city to take the $11 million a year spent prosecuting homeless trespassers redirected to programs that help the poor. But some store owners and police officers worry that homeless trespassing and loitering around their businesses is only getting worse.
They say calling police and prosecuting the offenders is their only option.
“I don’t really know the answer but I definitely think the Dallas police officers you have, to get them the authority, they need to protect themselves… protect the community,” says Mike DiCarlo, Jimmy’s Food Store owner.
“We are doing it to the benefit of what the business community wants done and those residents that are living in the downtown area don’t want to step over somebody on there stoop,” says Mike Mata, Dallas Police Association President.
Officer tell told CBS 11 News they don’t like taking the homeless to jail but blame city leaders for not coming up with better options.