Darrell Steinberg ran his 2016 mayoral campaign on a platform of empathy to the homeless community. Six months into his tenure as mayor, the Sacramento Police Department has recorded two of the four highest months of anti-camping citations since January 2014.
The police handed out 71 camping citations in June and 85 in January of 2017. The latter is second only to February 2016, when police cited 144 campers in the month following the homeless community’s Right to Rest protest and occupation outside of Sacramento City Hall.
The 2017 citations through June are a great deal below 2016 (which was amplified by the February crackdown), and slightly higher than the halfway point of 2015.
VOICES: River City obtained police citation numbers through a public records request filed with the Sacramento Police Department.
Mayor Steinberg’s office did not respond to a request for interview by the time of publishing this article.
Sergeant Bryce Heinlein of the Sacramento Police Department was not aware of any reason for the high numbers in January and June of 2017.
“I can’t tell you that we had an operation or anything like that in those two months that would have caused those higher numbers,” he said.
Heinlein says officers try to send campers to services before giving them citations, but county records show there are nowhere near enough beds for residents sleeping in the elements.
A January 2017 homeless count for Sacramento County found a staggering 2,052 unsheltered homeless individuals. This is far greater than the 700 year-round shelter beds in the region–almost all of which are occupied nightly. Homelessness experts believe the actual number of unsheltered residents to be much higher than the 2,052 figure.
While the city’s citation numbers do not differ greatly from previous years, Sacramento County Park Rangers have cited 730 campers through July of 2017, a rise of 133 percent from the same time in 2016.
Added together, campers received 873 citations from the Sacramento Police Department and county park rangers through June of 2017–the highest in at least four years. By June 2016, rangers and Sacramento police recorded 685 citations. That time in 2015 recorded 786 from the two departments.
Sacramento County Chief Ranger Michael Doane was not available for comment by the time of publishing.
Full data sets of camping citations from Sacramento County Park Rangers and the Sacramento Police Department can be found below. They will be updated monthly.