WILMINGTON — A joint operation between the Wilmington Police Department’s Special Response Team and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office was conducted Wednesday in which nine homeless encampments were located.
The field operation was initiated in response to numerous business and citizen complaints of homeless encampments, persons trespassing on private property, and property damage and theft, according to a news release from the City of Wilmington.
Encampments found included at the Wilmington College cross country path off the city bike trail; behind the U.S. Post Office close to the railroad tracks; behind Lowe’s; behind Timber Tech; behind Behind CMH and the fairgrounds; and the wooded area between N. Wall St.and Prairie Creek Crossing.
No persons were actually in the encampments when officers conducted the operation, the city stated.
All encampments were littered with significant amounts of trash and debris, and some of the locations had multiple hypodermic needles in the piles of rubble as well as other drug-related paraphernalia.
Wilmington Police Chief Ron Fithen said, “While these camps are illegal, the city still has a legal obligation to recover any abandoned personal property, even what is located in these unlawful sites, and hold it for a specified period of time. In this instance, our agency will hold the property for a 72-hour period.
“Our officers conducting the operation were required to leave a notice at each location that outlined the steps on how to recover the personal property.”
As for the encampments, “The amount of litter and debris is just overwhelming and will take a lengthy period of time and work to remove it, all at the city’s expense.
“I’m also concerned about the city employees charged with cleaning these sites. They will have to be very careful given that we identified syringes and other dangerous items in the debris. These encampments continue to be a safety hazard to everyone involved.”