Saturday, May 26, 2018
Public safety

Tampa police and Downtown Partnership donate $3,000 to shelter homeless

TAMPA — Nearly five months after the Tampa City Council banned sleeping in public, two downtown entities have donated $3,000 to help shelter the city's homeless.

On Wednesday, the Tampa Police Department and Tampa Downtown Partnership announced the gift to the Salvation Army, which normally charges $10 a night after five free nights at its N Florida Avenue shelter.

The donation is meant to be "a challenge and an inspiration," Downtown Partnership president Christine Burdick said. The agencies hope businesses and individuals will add to the pot — especially those downtown business owners who have been vocal about the problems homeless people pose, Burdick said.

Tampa drew some negative reactions in July when it passed new restrictions on panhandling and sleeping in parks or on sidewalks. One of the ordinances prohibits people from storing their property in public, urinating in public, and sleeping or camping in parks, on sidewalks or in public rights of way. It passed 4-3, despite protests that it essentially criminalized homelessness.

Each person is given three warnings before being arrested. Since police started enforcing the ordinance in September, officers have arrested two people for sleeping in public and five people for urinating in public, police Chief Jane Castor said.

Tampa police's homeless liaison, Officer Dan McDonald, estimates there are between 200 and 500 chronically homeless in the downtown area. The Salvation Army has 220 beds and overflow options for cold nights.

On Wednesday, several police officers walked through downtown, telling the homeless about this new program, dubbed "Operation Gimme Shelter." The timing was good, Castor said, with temperatures expected to dip in the 30s and 40s overnight Wednesday.

The department's $2,000 donation comes from money it received as a thank-you from the organizers of the Sunset Festival after its May music festival at Raymond James Stadium.

Sitting in Lykes Gaslight Square Park, in front of police headquarters, 57-year-old Mitch Manseau said he will consider heading to the Salvation Army now that his stay is free. Before, he'd have to beg for the $10 to cover his stay.

"I used to hold a sign," he said, "but I'm not good at it."

Usually, he just sleeps by the Greyhound bus station.

Dean Sawyers said he will also consider heading to the Salvation Army. Normally, Sawyers, 47, prefers to stay elsewhere to avoid the crowds, but his blue jacket and blanket don't quite cut it on the coldest nights.

The officers continued letting people know on Wednesday and say many more will probably find out by word of mouth.

After that, Tampa officials hope to help these homeless people find more permanent housing solutions. Officer McDonald recently helped Manseau, a U.S. Army veteran, get a place to stay starting in December. He also helped Sawyers get a Social Security card and identification, which is often necessary to get a job, housing or benefits.

"Most people don't want to be out there on the streets," Castor said. "But they don't have the means or the documentation necessary to get themselves out."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Comments
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Police investigating shooting outside nightclub

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred outside a south St. Petersburg nightclub early Saturday morning.Brennan-Aire D. Williams, 28, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving by cab at Bayfront Health. Police invest...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Woman dies in Plant City after SUV flips off road

PLANT CITY — A Seffner woman died Saturday from injuries sustained when her sports utility vehicle flipped off the road and crashed into a fence near the intersection of Tanner Road and State Road 574.Amanda K. Cepeda-Duque, 21, was traveling west on...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Her husband wouldn’t apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

Her husband wouldn’t apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

RIVERVIEW — A Riverview woman shot and killed her husband Saturday because he punched her father and wouldn’t say sorry, the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office said.Sabrina Michelle Hendley, 40, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Mark A. H...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Quick action to slow traffic on Bayshore prompts call to do more citywide

Quick action to slow traffic on Bayshore prompts call to do more citywide

TAMPA — As city workers set up signs Friday establishing a lower speed limit on Bayshore Boulevard, neighborhood residents and transportation activists urged more steps to improve safety for pedestrians all across the city.The move is a good beginnin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Published: 05/25/18
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Published: 05/25/18

Raccoon bites bicyclist, now the Health Department is looking for the victim

TAMPA — A bicyclist in the Palm River area was bitten by a raccoon Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County said.Now the department is concerned the animal had rabies and is searching for the bicyclist."While it is impo...
Published: 05/25/18

Police: Baby not abandoned; mother surrendered infant

TAMPA — A newborn baby initially thought to be found on the ground near a trash can in north Tampa was not abandoned, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.The child’s mother gave birth to the boy Thursday, and she and someone else too...
Published: 05/25/18
Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A male student opened fire at a suburban Indianapolis middle school Friday morning, wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said. Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the science teache...
Published: 05/25/18