Pressure mounts on the GJPD

During the year 2011, the Grand Junction Police Department (GJPD) of Grand Junction, Colorado, was asked to look into creating a plan to relocate around 500 homeless persons within its operating area by 2023.  This ten year plan was to be implemented starting 2013 in light of an 11 percent increase (KJCT, 2012) and create safe places for the homeless and transients which occupied areas near the Colorado River and other public areas throughout city limits.  The first step that the GJPD took was to create a Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) and start building relationships with the local homeless persons.

GJPD Hot Team

GJPD Hot Team

As the HOT team started to get to know some the locals they found that there were camps settled along the river near the train yard, and that some of the camps had been there for much longer than they had thought.  The rivers bends were littered with debris and, although the sites were unable to be seen from the roadways, some people and business owners started to complain about the “unsightly trash” and pressure started to build on the city council members.  Although Police Chief John Camper had modeled the HOT team after a successful program in Colorado Springs he had not expected for such a blowback from the local community to the city council (Sullivan, 2012).

As business owners started hearing about the HOT team and what its proposed goals were they started to voice more opposition to the local homeless and increased the amount of time taken up during the city council meetings.  This added pressure then turned from the elected city council members to the Police Chief. The Chief had no other option than to give into the demands of the city council and move away from the proposed 10 year plan in an attempt to ratify what the local populous wanted, a cleaner river basin and fewer if any homeless persons visible.  The HOT team then set out to remove or evict those who lived along the river.

It Happens

It Happens

“The evections came without warning. Notices were stapled to the peoples tents, and when the day came to have everything out, some of the Police Officers slashed the tents clean through with knifes, leaving only shards of fabric.” Eric Niederkruger said while talking to one of the local groups about the differences between what is seen on the media and what actions actually took place (Personal correspondence with Eric Niederkruger).

Although the actions of the officers in the HOT team and other supporting officers were not direct reflections of the police chief himself, as the pressure built on the organization the set plans went out the window.  Business owners put pressure on the city council to “clean up the town” only after the initial phase of the ten year plan was already set into motion but that pressure boiled over.  The Police Chief was then put into a situation where the pressure from the elected body that governed his jurisdiction influenced his decision making and causing what some people would consider an unethical course of events; the destruction of personal property by those sworn to uphold the law.  When pressure can be put on someone with decision making opportunity there is a chance of unethical behavior, even if the victims are victims already.

References

KJCT. Dec 11, 2012. KJCT News 8. Colorado homeless numbers increase, local shelters not surprised. Retrieved from http://www.kjct8.com/news/Colorado-homeless-numbers-increase-local-shelter-not-surprised/-/163152/17740960/-/y8ivyqz/-/index.html

S. Sullivan. May 25, 2012. Grand Junction Free Press. HOT pursuit: GJPD’s Homeless Outreach Team promotes rehabilitation, understanding. Retrieved from http://www.gjfreepress.com/article/20120525/COMMUNITY_NEWS/120529960

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Right to Heal

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is currently working on bring back to the life the Appeal for Redress as a national part of Operation Recovery.  The current proposed process will include active duty members protected under the US Whistleblower Act as well as give a voice to veterans and families affected by current militarism.  The Appeal for Redress is being used during outreach in the Bay Area, JBLM, and Under the Hood at Fort hood.  We are planning to launch our national campaign around the 10 year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  We are timing this to coincide with the release of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing press release to look into the abuse and mistreatment of soldiers currently serving and how have served during OIF and OEF.

Operation Recovery brings some concrete wins to the table as well that will tie into the release of the Appeal for Redress as The Jesse Brown VA in Chicago has already been swayed by the threat of IVAW working hand in hand with National Nurses United (NNU) (union in the VA) and we have been able to secure multiple sit-downs with upper management, added 20 more nurses to the full time staff, secured a dedicated women’s center rather than shared space, and the resignation of the director effective today, Jan 4, 2013. As the start of the new year is upon us we are looking to increase pressure on the VA’s across the county including cities such as San Diego CA, Denver CO, and Madison VA.

IVAW is now reaching out to work with many other grassroots organizations and are looking to expand our reach and stand in solidarity to change the current culture and reduce the militarist mindset that has set in so deep.

Please feel free to contact:

IVAW-news@googlegroups.com