FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Homeless campsites in South Fayetteville have seen an increase in crime, raising red flags for University of Arkansas police.
The area in talk is owned by the U of A, and is known for it's homeless population. It's directly across from the 7 Hills Homeless Center.
University police said most calls they've received about theft, trash, violence and drugs is from those actually living on the homeless campsites.
"If you're trying to find safety from somebody, and you get with the wrong person well he's going to put a needle in your arm," said Robert Frideaux, who was homeless.
"It's come to the point where we would probably be better served, and the community would be better served if we go out and start paying more attention in that area," said Capt. Gary Crain with UAPD.
Frideaux said he spent three years living in the woods, and knows first hand how dangerous these homeless camp-grounds can be.
"If you have people with violent tendencies, of course substances are going to make them worse," said Frideaux.
He said, there's a dire need for police presence.
"There's standards around 7 Hills and the churches and community meals. But out on the actual community itself there's no policing and a lot of bad things happen," said Frideaux.
Crain said they've always had police patrol the area, but not on a regular basis.
"Officers have to be equipped and have the proper clothing, shoes. They have to have some ability to not be injured by the things they're going to have to encounter out there," said Crain.
Solomon Burchfield, Director of Operations for 7 Hills Homeless Center said building the bridge between those living on the campsites and law enforcement is key.
"It is important that we go about it in the right way, and make sure people experiencing homelessness know that law enforcement is there for them and on their side," said Burchfield.
As for a long-term fix, Burchfield said it's getting people out of the tents.
"As a community we know the only intervention that's going to address the issue to build out housing programs that can get people back on their feet," explained Burchfield.
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