San Diego Police make sharp increase on homeless arrests days before annual census

Homeless in San Diego

San Diego Police arrests saw a noticeable uptick in Downtown areas most densely populated with transient populations in the days before the annual homeless census, reports the Voice of San Diego. The spike has created a public conversation questioning how much of the unusual law enforcement was attributed to the forthcoming homeless count.

Thanks to a public records request filed by the Voice of San Diego, city data reveals that police arrested 62 people for violations often associated with homelessness in areas of Downtown known for high influxes of homeless populations, all within one week. As stated in the initial report, that number is triple the number of arrests police made in the previous two weeks combined.

Between January 11th-15th, arrest data showed no arrests in ZIP codes that included East Village and Sherman Heights, areas commonly known for high transient populations. In the following week (the week before the census), the number suddenly rose to over twenty.

Greg Block, a spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer, attributed the increased amount of arrests to neighborhood complaints and nothing to do with the census. Homeless solution advocates and the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, however, have expressed concern that the increased police activity has led to inaccurate reporting of San Diego's actual homeless problem, skewing the results to reflect a false improvement.

CEO of the Regional Task Force, Tamera Kohler, has expressed her desire for police and sheriff's departments to place a halt on activity affecting homeless San Diegans in the days before future homeless counts. Kohler has said she also plans to investigate how law enforcement on homelessness has affected previous annual counts.

"To have that kind of activity just changes the landscape," Kohler said.