Police crackdown on homeless underway in Orange County

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Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies Friday worked to clear homeless people from encampments along six miles of the Santa Ana riverbed in the Fountain Valley area, a process that was going relatively smoothly with only one arrest reported.

County officials in mid-September began a program that was aimed at cracking down on lawbreakers while also trying to guide transients to various services that would get them off the streets.

The full closure of the west bank of the river between Adams Avenue in Huntington Beach and 17th Street in Santa Ana was ordered last month so deferred maintenance could be performed, sheriff’s department public affairs manager Jaimee Blashaw said.

Overnight closures between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the river trail on the east bank were also ordered, Blashaw said.

Two weeks ago, officials had counted about 105 homeless people in the area, Blashaw said, though some media outlets put the number at as many as 200.

With Friday’s deadline at hand, a substantial number of transients had already cleared out and the rest were working on doing so, Blashaw said.

Only one arrest was reported, that of a man who refused to get out of the riverbed and became combative when deputies attempted to remove him. He was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, Blashaw said.

Enforcing the closures will continue through the weekend and into Monday, if necessary, with the sheriff’s department exercising some flexibility, depending on people’s circumstances.

Officials are also working to connect the homeless individuals with resources such as shelter and transportation, and shelter for their animals, Blashaw said.

–City News Service

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