Police respond to homeless camp in Hamilton

CSX Transportation employees called the Hamilton Police Department for help Thursday morning with people from a homeless camp near railroad tracks in the Lindenwald area on Dixie Highway.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit, who was among officers that responded, said the city has an ongoing effort to help the people find resources they need to battle addictions and other issues.

Bucheit emphasized that contrary to an impression that was given over emergency radio scanners, police were not removing people from the area Thursday, something that has been occurring with homeless people elsewhere in southwest Ohio in recent weeks.

The city of Cincinnati on Wednesday closed a downtown homeless camp after a Hamilton County judge ordered people to leave, saying the homeless living within a five-block area on Third Street downtown Cincinnati are a public nuisance because of felony drug crimes that occur there, according to our news partners at WCPO.

Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller in recent months has been meeting with advocates for the homeless, including religious organizations, to brainstorm the best ways to help them.

“We’re down here today, we’re continuing to work with property owners and people that are involved to identify folks that are on private property without permission, get them connected to resources, get them some permanent housing,” Bucheit told the Journal-News.

“We’re down here today just as an extension of those efforts,” he said.

The police asked on the railroad employees’ behalf that people at the camp stop crossing the tracks and stay away from the trees being pruned and the fence being repaired.

Police have been working with the railroad and surrounding stores and shopping plazas in recent weeks, “just trying to work through everybody’s interests here, and take care of folks that have some issues … and connecting with some resources that they need.”

In recent months, property owners, store tenants and others have complained about the homeless in the area.

The railroad tracks pose a hazard to them, Bucheit said.

“We just want to keep everybody safe, and make sure everybody’s interests are protected,” the police chief said. “We’ve got private property owners here. They have some concerns — as do we — and we’re just here to help them work through these issues and, again, get folks that need connection to services, get them into those services, and get this property turned back over to those owners.”

Many properties are involved in the efforts, including the railroad, according to Bucheit.

Doug Miller, who said he has been living at the camp for about one year, said the railroad doesn’t want people to cross the tracks anymore.

“We would have to walk the crossing, which the problem with that is we have a lot of older people here, they cannot possibly make that,” he said. “It’s hot right now, we go through a lot of water, things like that. So that’s going to be an issue. And they’re just kind of making it more difficult.”

Miller said he’s been trying to work with the homeless to get them out of the area, “but it becomes difficult when I have to stop and deal with things like this, because we’ve had a pretty good success rate,” said Miller, who is known at the camp as “Preacher Man.”

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