Why are there no homeless camps in Bellevue public parks?

Apr 14, 2021, 11:33 AM

Miller Park, encampments, homeless...

Tents at Miller Park in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of KIRO Radio listener)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO Radio listener)

There are homeless individuals in Bellevue, just like most other cities, but you won’t find tents or encampments in public parks, on ballfields, or on sidewalks.

That’s because before Bellevue police remove homeless campers from public spaces, they say they first try to find alternate housing for them.

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“We work our way through the process, we do the educational side first, offer the resources, but in the end, in many cases, it would come to something where we would then take enforcement action,” Bellevue Police Department Major Andrew Popochock told KIRO Radio.

Popochock emphasized that it’s a compassionate approach. The police department works closely with non-governmental agencies to find other places to house homeless individuals and offer campers any available services. If they accept, the BPD is willing to assist them in their move.

If the homeless campers refuse services or alternate housing, only then will officers force them to leave.

“We make sure that we work with our partners — if there’s a bed available, making sure that they have a place to go, that is an alternate location — before we do any sort of action that would then remove that person from the public property,” Popochock told KIRO Radio.

“If there’s an alternate or a location that person can stay, then that person is not allowed to then camp on the public property because they have another option,” he added.

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KIRO Radio’s Frank Shiers contributed to this report.

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Why are there no homeless camps in Bellevue public parks?