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Being homeless in Park City is not a crime

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Disclaimer: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio.

On April 9, Park City police received two calls from a husband and wife complaining about a man suspected of being homeless.

“She is upset because she has to look at them,” the police logs said, according to the The police responded to both complaints and determined that the homeless man sleeping on a park bench had not committed a criminal act. The caller was upset with the determination, according to police Capt. Phil Kirk.

A homeless person sleeping on a bench in the afternoon is not a crime. It’s a waste of police resources and taxpayers’ dollars because someone didn’t want to have to look at a homeless man sleeping on a bench minding his own business. Do we know if the man’s a criminal? We don’t. This is about a couple presuming the worst and acting on it by calling the cops.

Being poor is not a crime

It’s a sad commentary that when someone calls to gripe about the homeless, it’s about the caller’s judgment, about what they dislike, how they feel about having to look, gasp, at a homeless person. It’s about self-absorption, about judging another through the lens of your own experience. The caller doesn’t know anything about this unfortunate person, only that they don’t want to see it. The caller doesn’t like the reality of what is: a homeless person.

You’re worried about how it’s making you feel? I have one word for that: pathetic. Actually, two words: pathetic and sad.

I was homeless when I was much younger in California. Yeah, I got the judgments, but I also received help from those who suspended judgment and reached out.

Just because it’s in your community and you feel uncomfortable —  these are not sufficient reasons to call the police. Call the police when your highest level of concern has been reached. Think danger. Call the cops if the person is clearly threatening in their behavior, stalking, casing vehicles, approaching children, banging on doors of homes or loitering in front of businesses.

Sleeping on a bench is not a crime.

Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Don’t forget to review and subscribe to the JayMac News Show podcast on Apple Podcasts. Or follow Jay on Twitter and Instagram or on Facebook.