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Chico Police Chief addresses homeless policing problems

At the April 21 council meeting, Chief O'Brien let the council know he was not happy with its decision.

Posted: Apr 22, 2020 8:32 PM

CHICO, Calif. - Chico Police Chief Michael O'Brien said the council's newly passed ordinance is making it difficult for his officers to do their job.

Those around Chico are upset about the council's decision to ban breaking-up homeless camps of fewer than 10 people.

"There's a number of other places they can go to camp if they need to, but this park was designed for people to enjoy and not to live in," said Martin Kamps.

Sandy Remault lives in Chico and said she understands the need to place homeless somewhere safe.

"I think what they need is one place in the park where it's legal to be and have services provided," said Remault.

"They did it because of the coronavirus, saying 'We gotta keep these people safe, if we break up these encampments, they'll disperse and take the virus to other places," said Councilman Sean Morgan.

"There was a direction given and I respect council for it," said Chief O'Brien. "The problem is it lacked clarity and understanding, as far as how it's going to integrate with existing law."

"It made it very difficult for myself and my police officers. It took away the well-earned discretion our police officers have to make decisions based on individual circumstances," O'Brien continued.

At the April 21 council meeting, Chief O'Brien let the council know he was not happy with its decision.

"I was disappointed that the council majority took a position that did not recognize the hard level of work that we have earned and took away the discretion of my police officers and myself," said O'Brien.

The Chief said the department will respect the council's decision and follow the law as best it can.

"I'm still not entirely sure what I can enforce and what I cannot," O'Brien explained.

"My duty is to protect this community and I will continue to do that to the best of my ability," said O'Brien.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 886939

Reported Deaths: 17167
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2904866944
Riverside650561275
San Bernardino609451065
Orange576351423
San Diego53263863
Kern33551413
Fresno30220430
Sacramento24811474
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Stanislaus17403394
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Imperial12610336
San Francisco11969137
Monterey1115884
San Mateo10918157
Santa Barbara9671119
Merced9386153
Sonoma9016134
Kings817383
Solano720574
Marin7036127
Madera492873
San Luis Obispo408032
Placer402355
Yolo309958
Butte302651
Santa Cruz272524
Napa190814
Sutter182112
Shasta178629
San Benito141114
El Dorado13024
Yuba128010
Mendocino111121
Tehama7938
Lassen7611
Lake67815
Glenn6473
Nevada5988
Humboldt5609
Colusa5486
Calaveras33917
Amador31316
Tuolumne2574
Inyo21815
Siskiyou1860
Del Norte1751
Mono1752
Mariposa782
Plumas610
Modoc270
Trinity250
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Chico
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Very strong winds and dry conditions are driving critical fire danger today. A Red Flag Warning for high fire danger, a Wind Advisory, and a Freeze Warning are all in effect for the start of your Thursday.
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