Official Press Release
At the City Council Study Session of January 17, 2018, Gilroy City Council held a meeting to discuss the issues of public safety, homelessness and crime affecting our community. This is a very complex and yet very human issue that reaches every corner and every segment of our population. Recently, we have seen a marked increase in both crime and public safety complaints. Many of the public safety complaints involve homeless individuals. Regarding homeless individuals Police Chief Smithee stated, “We have homeless people that are doing the best they can and need help. And we have homeless people that are not interested in help and victimize the community.”
Complicating the issue is recent state legislation, though aimed at reducing prison populations and focusing on rehabilitation, has had the unintended consequence of putting more criminals on our streets and limiting our ability to keep frequent offenders off our streets.
Seeking for balance between the issues of homelessness and crime, Mayor Velasco stated, “Not all crime is because of homelessness. And this Council wants to help those homeless individuals that need a helping hand. However, as the Mayor, the council and I have an obligation to the rest of the community as well. And to that end, I would like to see the police really start to focus some of their energy on tackling that population of the homeless that doesn’t care about participating in a lawful society.”
In light of these issues, the Mayor and City Council are focusing on solutions to protect the community’s quality of life while showing compassion to homeless individuals in need of assistance. Ideas discussed by Council include approving additional funding to increase policing, creating a “no tolerance” atmosphere for repeat offenders, soliciting state legislature for support and possible legislation change, providing resources to business owners for reporting issues, and continuing to look for solutions for helping those homeless individuals who need help.
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