This last year federal courts ruled that cities cannot prosecute the homeless for sleeping on the streets, such as sidewalks, provided they have no other place to go. However, to get around this, Roseburg police are citing these folks with other charges, such as disorderly conduct, for doing just this.

I just had a conversation with the Roseburg Police Department's watch commander on duty, who clearly told me that even if these people aren't drinking alcohol, or blocking business doors, or anything else like that, they are still being cited with these other charges simply for blocking part of the sidewalk. This is exactly what federal law prohibits, to my understanding.

This inquiry on my part came after I'd seen this same officer shoo a couple people sitting on the sidewalk close to Downtown Market, who had done nothing wrong. I get that these businesses aren't fond of homeless hanging around their stores, but they can't really open up shop in this part of town only to complain about folks that were doing the same thing prior to them doing so.

The police can attempt to circumvent federal law by calling the act something it isn't, but the fact is these same officers will only do so when it involves a business, and the statute states these actions are not condoned.

I do agree that homelessness is very much a problem, but advising businesses to report anything they think officers can contort into a criminal offense isn't okay, nor is mislabeling undesirable actions with charges they are not simply because they have the authority exaggerate relative/subjective terminology; though this is nothing new in Roseburg.

Trevor Carlson


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(6) comments


We currently are letting a person who is homeless stay here. But since I don't allow illegal drugs on smoking inside they rarely sleep here. Looks like we have become more of a crash pad but that is their choice. We extended a hand what they choose to do with that is up to them.


They cite them. They don't show up in court, or they have no money to pay their fine which is typically $100.00 minimum. BUT, they usually move on: Problem solved. I've witnessed this time and again. You can always board them at your home if you're genuinely concerned. A few tents on your property aren't breaking any laws. Right?


I had my business downtown for some years - but it got really bad with the "homeless" coming into your shop; unwashed with a dog(s) and making it very, very difficult to have your customers not be offended - never to return.....


Oh, they have other places to go. There are jobs out there. They just don't want to sober up, clean up, and get rid of the pit bull. I avoid going downtown because of them. Compassion has its limits.


If everyone provided either a spare room in their home or a place to park maybe we wouldn't have such a big homeless problem. But it appears it is easier to grip then to actually do something. I admit some homeless folks don't seem to want help but there are some that do. It doesn't take much to help. It doesn't take a lot of money. But it takes stepping out of our comfort zone and that can be hard to do. Most folks are blessed with more then they need so why not share a little of that bounty?


This is a No-Win situation. It's bad for the homeless, it's bad for the shop owners, it's bad for the public who are discouraged from being there.

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