TO: Downtown Businesses
FROM: Corporal Craig Kelly
SUBJECT: Trespass/Authority Letters
It’s that time of year again when the cold weather and rain pass through town. With that comes problems associated with vagrants seeking shelter in your business alcoves. It’s important to know they have the safe alternative of using the Winter Warming Shelter.
We know you work hard to make your business safe, clean and successful. Please let us continue to partner with you by renewing your Authority Letter so we can enforce public nuisance offenses on your property. These letters expire every 180 days, and most of them have recently expired. This is the primary tool we use to motivate violators to use the shelter located in Oxnard. It also helps us keep your business entrances free of debris, trash, urine, and leftover drug paraphernalia. This is particularly important if your business has an alcove that can be used as shelter.
Essentially, an Authority Letter authorizes Ventura Police Officers to go on your property to enforce trespassing, illegal lodging, or any other violations of the law. It prevents us from calling you in the middle of the night to see if you desire prosecution. I encourage you to fill out the 602 Authority Letter (click here). Please contact me when it is filled out and I will send a cadet to pick it up, or feel free to hand the letter to any Downtown cadet or ambassador.
This does bring up a concern many people have. They worry that if they fill out one of these letters the police are just going to take anyone who is lodging on their property to jail. That isn’t the case. Before arresting anyone for illegal lodging, we warn them first. During our warning, we advise them regarding the use of the Warming Shelter. We tell them they will get a hot dinner, a warm safe place to sleep, a breakfast and two bus passes every morning when they leave the shelter. One bus pass is so they can leave the area for the day and the other is so they can get back to the shelter in the evening. We also offer a bus pass so they can get to the shelter for their first stay. They are then informed that any future violations subject them to arrest.
We use discretion when enforcing these laws. Physical arrests are reserved for chronic offenders who refuse to take advantage of any resources and repeatedly choose to violate these laws when they have other legal alternatives. We also understand some of these individuals suffer from mental illnesses and we usually opt to take them to mental health services. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.