TEXARKANA, Texas - Police are enforcing a new Texas law that prohibits homeless people from camping in public places. But they are trying to enforce it in a compassionate way.
"We are trying to be as compassionate as we can and directing them to some of the great organizations that we have here that can work with them," said Texarkana Texas Police Spokesman Shawn Vaughn.
Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton recently sent a joint letter to the Texas Association of Counties, the Texas Municipal League and cities across the state reminding cities and counties that House Bill 1925, which bans camping in public places, must now be enforced on a statewide basis.
Abbott signed HB 1925 into law in June, and the law went into effect on Sept. 1.
Vaughn said TTPD has been enforcing the law since Sept. 1. He said no one is allowed to set up any type of camp in any location that is visible to the public.
"It cannot be visible to the public," he said. "We talk to them and try to get them to relocate," he said. "For the most part, we have had success with them moving. There have been a few times we have had to write citations when someone would not leave."
Vaughn said the department has always had a good working relationships with people and organizations that work to help the homeless such as Randy Sams' Outreach Shelter. Cody Howard, who founded the Church Under the Bridge, also works closely with law enforcement on the local homeless population, Vaughn said.
Church Under the Bridge is an outdoor church service aimed at ministering to the homeless population.
Many who testified in support of HB 1925 during the 87th Legislative Session noted that it is almost impossible to reach people experiencing homelessness with available services when they are located in camps.