Police To Tackle Homelessness During Super Bowl

Officials Target Downtown Panhandling, Homeless Camps

Indianapolis police unveiled on Thursday their plan to tackle the Circle City’s homeless population and aggressive panhandling during the Super Bowl.

Police targeted the city’s unofficial homeless camp on the corner of Market and East streets, where trash, discarded food and clothing litter the sidewalks.

The camp is just blocks from downtown Indianapolis, and has become a pressure point for complaints and an eyesore for tourists.

Tamara Ward frequents the camp and said she’s afraid officials will make her move from her makeshift home, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported.

IMPD Dep. Chief Mike Bates said officers will enforce the applicable panhandling laws as the Super Bowl gets closer.

"There certainly won't be any forced relocation. We wouldn't do that at all. Certainly we'll address the issues. We will approach these individuals and work with these individuals in cooperation with other agencies,” Bates said.

Police have partnered with social service providers and are visiting downtown homeless camps in an effort to get people off the street and into shelters and treatment.

Mike Hurst, director of Coalition For Homelessness, said he’s looking to help people, not just get them out of sight.

"The increased police presence and increased social service presence might enhance the opportunities of people living under bridges or in these encampments to come inside,” Hurst said.

Gilbert Holmes, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said the city should allocate some Super Bowl funds to help the homeless.

"We've observed that the Super Bowl committees have spent an awful lot of money to do things to make our city attractive. But how much of those resources are being dedicated to help those people who are homeless?" Holmes said.

Homeless advocates said the topic is a very sensitive issue and that Indy’s image weighs heavily on the way its homeless population is treated.

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