Problems with business: Crestview police seek help with homeless

Problems with business: Crestview police seek help with homeless

The Chief of Crestview's Police Department said something needs to be done about the number of homeless in the city's downtown area.

Now he's made a public request for some of Okaloosa County's best and brightest to pitch in their expertise.

April Meyer has had this pet store on Main Street in Crestview for a while now.

Its broad glass windows are a window into the world of pets. They let her see out into a problem.

Outside her shop, her customers are subject to harassment from the homeless who wander up and down the street.

"Occasionally, we have some that walk up to people's cars, panhandling for money. That could be a problem for our customers, so in some aspects, that could be a problem," Meyer said.

Problems for customers easily become problems for businesses.

"Sometimes it affects my business, we do have a certain number of panhandlers that come down here; opportunists, I'm sure," Meyer said.

Police Chief Tony Taylor has noticed the homeless problem as well but said the department's hands are tied when it comes to helping businesses, after all, homelessness isn't a crime.

"The homeless have seemed to have gravitated to the downtown area and they believe it's running off some of their business and our presence does dislocate it for a while, but the minute we are gone, they are right back in there," Chief Taylor said.

That's why he wrote a two-page memo to the city council and the institute senior professionals at Northwest Florida State College asking for help.

"Basically, we are looking for long-term solutions to help society," Chief Taylor said.

And asking how the department should deal with the issue of homelessness.

"The individual roles of law enforcement, local governments, county governments, state governments, national governments. just to find our roles and see if we can figure out long-term solution," Chief Taylor said.

April Meyer thinks it should start with how prisoners at the jail get released.

"Part of our issue in the city is that when they are arrested in the south end of the county and transported, we have the county jail, so we transport them to the north end, and then there is no transport to return them where they come from," Meyer said.

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