The Bloomingtonian

Unhoused community members told by city Tuesday to vacate camp at Switchyard Park

August 17, 2021; Bloomington, Indiana: The City of Bloomington posted signs Tuesday at the Switchyard Park homeless camp telling unhoused members of the community they have until Friday (72 hours) to shelter elsewhere, Tuesday, August 17, 2021. The Bloomington City Council voted over the winter to not allow overnight camping without a permit on any land belonging to the City of Bloomington. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

The city issued a document titled, “Actions to Improve Safety in Public Spaces,”  that was sent to The Bloomingtonian Monday. Tuesday notices were put in the camp along the B-Line near Switchyward Park.

Text of the city’s document begins here: 

“Actions to Improve Safety in Public Spaces


August 16, 2021


Bloomington, like most cities, experiences a certain amount of destructive and illegal behaviors, many of them happening in or on parks, streets, sidewalks and other public spaces. This can threaten public health and safety and compromise the whole community’s ability to use and/or benefit from these shared spaces. In recent months the city has received an uptick in complaints about:


●camping overnight in parks, in the right of way, and in flood-prone areas
●public intoxication leading to violence or destructive behavior
●vandalism, graffiti and other damage to public and private property
●vehicle break-ins
●harassment and assaults
●maintaining aggressive animals
●building fires near a gas line or dangerous outdoor use of electrical appliances
●defecation and urination in public places


City staff members have engaged in dozens of conversations, both formal and informal, to
gather input from the community about how to address these issues. Based on that input and
best practices implemented in other communities, a plan has been developed. In order to curb these illegal and/or dangerous behaviors and protect the whole community’s ability to use and benefit from our shared spaces, the City plans to undertake several actions:


●Continue to enforce existing City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department
(Parks) policies relating to suspension from parks due to prohibited behavior. Please see
Parks policy on suspension attached below.
●Continue to discourage illegal and dangerous behavior in any location through existing
civil statutes related to use of public spaces, governing public health, or other legitimate
means.
●Increase police patrols and enforcement of policies as warranted by persistence of illegal
and unsafe behaviors, to supplement private security personnel recently contracted to
enhance safety at City parks properties.
●Enhance public safety capacity in order to have the ability to respond to dangerous and
illegal behaviors in a timely fashion.
●Continue to take special considerations when those individuals engaging in illegal
behaviors are experiencing homelessness and are living in an encampment. In these
situations, the Bloomington Police Department (BPD) follows their General Order
entitled, “Police Interaction with Homeless Encampments.” If an encampment itself is deemed to be violating the rules for public property, the BPD will follow the “Policy on
Closure of Encampments on Public Property” which may call for closure in the event that
○the encampment is located on public property and/or property owned by Parks.
(Encampments on private property are the responsibility of the property owner;
the City will assist with their closure as appropriate.);
○behaviors or the encampment location interfere with others’ use of the public
space or the maintenance of the public space for the benefit of all; or
○behaviors there are illegal or unsafe to those camping or to the general public.
The City is coordinating efforts with nonprofit partners, including shelter providers and other
social service agencies, to support individuals who are displaced if an encampment is closed and connect them with services and resources, including food, shelter, therapeutic services, and employment and/or occupational opportunities.
The City will enforce all policies in a way that targets illegal and unsafe behaviors and does not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s housing status.”

Removal or Suspension from Bloomington
Parks and Recreation Properties
Revised Administration Policies – 2050
Date: May 28, 2013
Updated: February 17, 2020
POLICY RE: Removal and Suspension from use of property owned, managed or
operated by the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department
I. Removal
(A) In accordance with authority established in Ind.Code § 36-10-4 et cet., and
Bloomington Municipal Code 2.20, a person may be asked to leave or be removed from
property owned, managed or operated by the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation
Department for reasons that include, but are not limited to:
1. Actions or behavior which violate the United StatesCode;
2. Actions or behavior which violate the Indiana Code;
3. Actions or behavior which violate the Indiana AdministrativeCode;
4. Actions or behavior which violate the City of BloomingtonMunicipal Code;
5. Actions or behavior which violate the Rules and Regulations adopted by the
City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department or City of Bloomington
Parks Board, unless the appropriate permit has been obtained;
6. Aggressive or violent actions or behavior;
7. Actions or behavior that unreasonably disrupts the activities of other users of
the park or facility;
8. Actions or behavior that unreasonably interferes withother persons’ ability to
use the park or facility;
9. Actions or behavior which unreasonably causes or creates a risk of causing
injury to persons within or on property owned, managed or operated by the
City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department;10.Actions or behavior which unreasonably causes or creates a risk of causing
damage to property owned, managed or operated by the city of Bloomington
Parks and Recreation Department; or
11.Actions or behavior which constitutes a public nuisance.
(B) The following individuals have authority to ask a person to leave or ask for a person
to be removed from property owned, managed, or operated by the City of Bloomington
Parks and Recreation Department:
1. Employees of the City of Bloomington Parks and RecreationDepartment; or
2. Law enforcement officers as defined by Indiana Code.
(C) Any person who is asked to leave or is removed from property owned, managed or
operated by the City of Bloomington Parks and RecreationDepartment shall be advised
of the reason he/she is being asked to leave or is being removed. Any person who is
asked to leave by a law enforcement officer as defined by Indiana Code and refuses to
do so may be subject to arrest.
II. Suspension
(A) In accordance with authority established in Ind. Code § 36-10-4 et cet., and
Bloomington Municipal Code 2.20, a person may be suspended from use or entrance on
property owned, managed, or operated by the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation
Department for reasons that include, but are not limited to:
1. Actions or behavior which violate the United StatesCode;
2. Actions or behavior which violate the Indiana Code;
3. Actions or behavior which violate the Indiana AdministrativeCode;
4. Actions or behavior which violate the City of BloomingtonMunicipal Code;
5. Actions or behavior which violate the Rules and Regulations adopted by the
City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department or City of Bloomington
Parks Board, unless the appropriate permit has been obtained;
6. Aggressive or violent actions or behavior;
7. Actions or behavior that unreasonably disrupts the activities of other users of
the park or facility;
8. Actions or behavior that unreasonably interferes with other persons’ ability to
use the park or facility;9. Actions or behavior which unreasonably causes or creates a risk of causing
injury to persons within or on property owned, managed or operated by the
City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department;
10.Actions or behavior which unreasonably causes or creates a risk of causing
damage to property owned, managed or operated by the City of Bloomington
Parks and Recreation Department; or
11.Actions or behavior which constitutes a public nuisance.
(B) The determination that a person is to be suspended from use or entrance on
property owned, managed or operated by the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation
Department is limited to the Director of Parks and Recreation and/or his/her appointed
designee.
(C) Notice of Suspension. A person may not be suspended from a use or entrance on
property owned, managed or operated by the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation
Department unless or until he or she has been notified of the suspension.
1. Notification of the suspension shall be served in writing via certified mail or
personal service.
2. The written notification shall state the reason for the suspension, the date
upon which the suspension begins, the length of the suspension, the
repercussion of ignoring the suspension and the process by which a person
may appeal the suspension.
3. The Notification shall be signed and dated by the director of Parks and
Recreation and/or his/her appointed designee.
(D) Appeal of Suspension. Any person who receives a Notification of Suspension shall
have the right to appeal said suspension. Any appeal shall adhere to the following
requirements:
1. All appeals shall be in writing and on a form supplied by the Parks and
Recreation Department.
2. All appeals shall be submitted to the City of BloomingtonParks Board, via the
Parks and Recreation Department, within ten (10) days of the suspension
being received. The date upon which the suspension is considered received is
the date upon which the suspended person is personally served or the date
upon which the certified mail is signed.3. Upon receipt of a written appeal, the City of Bloomington Parks Board shall
hear the appeal at its next regularly scheduled meeting, provided said appeal
can be properly noticed in accordance with IndianaOpen Door Law.
4. The person filing the appeal shall be notified, in writing, of the date, time and
location of the hearing by the City of BloomingtonParks Board. This
notification shall be served via personal service or certified mail.
5. During the pendency of any appeal the suspension is in effect, and the
suspended person is prohibited from entering upon or into any property
owned, managed, or operated by the City of BloomingtonParks and Recreation
Department.
(E) Suspension Hearing. All hearings on a suspension shall be open to the public and
comply with the Indiana Open Door Law.
1. Any person challenging his or her suspension shall be entitled to present his or
her defense to the City of Bloomington Parks Board on his/her own behalf or
through his/her representative.
2. Any person challenging his or her suspension shall be entitled to a minimum
of ten minutes to present his or her case to the ParksBoard.
3. Any person challenging his or her suspension shall be entitled to present
evidence, documents and witnesses supporting his or her position at the
suspension hearing.
4. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the City of BloomingtonParks Board shall
make written findings of fact either upholding or overturning the suspension.
Said findings of fact shall be made available to the person challenging the
suspension.
(F) Maximum Length of Suspension. No suspension shall be issued that is shorter than
seven (7) calendar days and lasts longer than one(1) calendar year.
(G) Entry upon or into any property owned, managed,or operated by the City of
Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department by a person who is suspended in
accordance with this Policy shall subject the person to arrest for criminal trespass in
accordance with Ind. Code § 35-43-2-2.BLOOMINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
GENERAL ORDER: Police Interaction with Homeless Encampments
Original Date of Issuance: August 13, 2021
Dates of Review:
Current Effective Date: August 13, 2021
______________________________________________________________________________
I. Purpose.
The purpose of this General Order is to provide guidance for officers to ensure the fair
and equitable treatment of persons experiencing homelessness and to ensure notice is
given to those who are unlawfully trespassing on public property and that personal
property is safeguarded according to law and Department policy.
II. Policy.
It is the policy of the Department to provide appropriate law enforcement services to the
entire community while being sensitive to the needs of and protecting the rights, dignity,
and personal property of the transient and homeless by the application of policy, law, and
practices.
III. Definition(s).
A. Transient Person. An individual who lacks stable housing or employment and
stays in one place for brief periods of time. Someone who moves from place to
place, just passing through the area, and is not staying for a long time.
B. Person Experiencing Homelessness. An individual who lacks a fixed, regular,
and adequate nighttime residence, a stable residence, or any residence at all, or
has a primary nighttime residency that is:
1. A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide
temporary living accommodations; or,
2. An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended
to be institutionalized; or,
3. A private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping
accommodation for human beings.
The term “person experiencing homelessness” does not include any person
imprisoned or otherwise detained following an Act of Congress or State Law. 42U.S.C. 11301, et seq. (An officer may make reasonable inquiry to make this
determination).
C. Downtown Resource Officer (DRO). A specially trained and assigned officer
who, in addition to regular police duties, provides enhanced police services to
help resolve issues that are unique to the downtown district of Bloomington.
D. Police Social Worker. An employee of the Bloomington Police Department who
is trained to engage with individuals experiencing mental health issues, substance
abuse, homelessness, and traumatic events and to refer such individuals to
appropriate resources and/or agencies.
E. Shelter Referral. A process whereby a person seeking emergency shelter
undergoes a criminal screening process in order to be accepted into the shelter.
IV. Legal & Other Reference(s).
A. Indiana Code 35-43-2-2, Criminal trespass.
B. General Order, Transient Persons and Persons Experiencing Homelessness.
C. City of Bloomington Policy for Closure of Encampments on Public Property.
V. Procedure(s).
A. Notification.
1. Upon observation of, or receipt of a complaint of, a homeless encampment
on public property, the officer shall respond and assess the situation. Once
confirmed, officers shall notify a supervisor of the situation. Immediate
action should be taken if conditions in the encampment constitute an
imminent threat to the health and/or safety of individuals in the
encampment or the general public, in accordance with the emergency
closure provision in the City of Bloomington Policy for Closure of
Encampments on Public Property.
2. Officers shall inspect the area, identifying any persons experiencing
homelessness on the property. A determination of their purpose and
intended length of stay and whether they have permission to be on the
property shall be made. Downtown Resource Officers and Police Social
Workers shall be notified of the encampment and of the persons present.
3. At least seventy-two (72) hours in advance of an action to remove an
encampment (not including weekends and holidays), persons present in
the encampment shall be notified that they will be required to move.4. Written notice will be posted at one or more visible locations near the
encampment and best efforts will be made to provide the notice personally
to all individuals in the encampment. Posting of the notice and efforts to
provide individual notice will be documented along with conditions at the
encampment. Notice will include contact information for finding
necessary shelter and services, and the location where personal belongings
will be stored as noted in Section V(B)(4) of this General Order.
5. At the conclusion of the seventy-two (72) hour time period, Officers shall
return to the encampment. Persons at the encampment will then be given a
final opportunity to depart. If they fail to depart or refuse to, a physical
arrest for Criminal Trespass is appropriate.
B. Handling and Disposition of Property.
1. Items that have no apparent value or utility, or are in unsanitary or
putrescent condition, may be immediately discarded. Weapons, drug
paraphernalia, and items that are established as either stolen or evidence of
a crime shall be retained following evidentiary procedure.
2. The personal property of transient persons and persons experiencing
homelessness shall be respected. Officers may allow them to take a limited
amount of personal items with them when arrested on a criminal matter or
transported for a referral. If necessary for an officer to collect such items
when a criminal arrest or referral is made, consideration shall be given to
officer safety in handling the items as well as the health and safety of
those who may come into contact with it in the Correctional Center or the
Property Room.
3. Items which may be considered personal property and taken with the
homeless individual include the following:
a. radios, audio, and video equipment;
b. medication;
c. personal papers, photographs, books and other reading materials;
d. luggage, backpacks or other storage containers;
e. clothing, shoes, toiletries, and cosmetics;
f. clocks and watches, eye glasses; and,
g. bed rolls, blankets and pillows (if not damp or soiled with urine,
blood, or fecal matter).
4. The personal items of individuals in the encampment shall be collected
and stored in a secure location for thirty (30) days. Where items remain
unclaimed after thirty (30) days, the items may be disposed of if
reasonable efforts have been made to locate and notify owners that their
personal items remain unclaimed. The City shall not store more items than will fit in one 96-gallon container per camper. Items in the following
condition shall not be stored:
a. wet or damp items;
b. items soiled with human or animal bodily fluids/feces, food,
chemicals, or other contaminants;
c. perishable items (e.g. food); or
d. items that represent a health or safety hazard.
5. When responding to address an encampment on private property, officers
and other city staff shall have no role or responsibility in sorting through,
cleaning up, itemizing, or otherwise managing property associated with
the encampment or individuals living at the encampment.POLICY FOR CLOSURE OF ENCAMPMENTS ON PUBLIC PROPERTY
1. In accordance with Indiana law, the City may require individuals camping in or otherwise
blocking or using a public right of way to the exclusion of others without a permit to vacate the
right of way.
2. Overnight camping and sleeping are not allowed in City parks without a permit under Parks
and Facilities Special Use Policy 13040.
3. Where conditions and/or behavior in an unpermitted encampment located on public property
(“Encampment”) constitute a threat to the public health and safety, significantly inhibit the
ability of City staff to maintain the public space for the benefit of all, or impede the ability of
other members of the general public to enjoy the space, the City may undertake to close down an
Encampment. In such an event, the City will follow the procedures set forth below.
a) Closure Date. The City will select a specific date for closing an Encampment
(“Closure Date”) and arrange ahead of time for any necessary contractors and/or
employees to be available on that date. The Encampment will be closed on the Closure
Date unless circumstances make it infeasible, unwise or not in compliance with other
provisions of this policy. If closure is delayed, the City will provide at least 24 hour
notice of the new Closure Date.
b) Community Partners. The City will contact community partners whose services
may be needed by persons experiencing homelessness and others in the Encampment to
notify them of the upcoming closure and ask them to be present to assist on the Closure
Date.
c) Notice. The City will provide individuals in an Encampment with 72 hours notice
(not including weekends and holidays) that they will be required to move. Written notice
will be posted at one or more visible locations near the Encampment, and City staff will
make their best efforts to provide the notice personally to all individuals in the
Encampment. Posting of the notice and efforts to provide individual notice will be
documented along with conditions at the encampment. Notice will include contact
information for finding necessary shelter and services, and the location where personal
belongings will be stored in accordance with Paragraph 3(f) below.
d) Waste Receptacles and Additional Information. On the Closure Date, the City will
ensure that waste receptacles are available on site. The City will also provide written
information to individuals remaining in the Encampment about where and when they
may retrieve their personal items and how to access community resources if they need
assistance.
e) Available Shelter. Before closing an Encampment, the City will confirm the
number of available shelter beds for individuals in the Encampment who do not have
other overnight shelter options, and will offer a shelter bed to as many individuals as
possible. The City does not plan on making arrests of individuals in an Encampment
unless absolutely necessary based on individual behavior. Any such arrests would be
unrelated to whether the individual suffers from substance use disorder, or to the individual’s housing or any other status. If an individual in the Encampment refuses
shelter, the City may nonetheless proceed to close the Encampment.
f) Emergency Closure. If the City determines that conditions in the Encampment
constitute an imminent threat to the health and/or safety of individuals in the
Encampment or the general public, the City may proceed to close an Encampment
immediately and will make every effort to find shelter beds for individuals in the
Encampment.
g) Personal Belongings. The City will collect the personal items of individuals in
the Encampment and store them in a secure place for 30 days. Where items remain
unclaimed after 30 days, the City may dispose of the unclaimed items if City staff has
made reasonable efforts to locate and notify owners that their personal items remain
unclaimed. The City shall not be required to store more items than will fit in one
96-gallon container per camper. The City will not be required to collect and store
personal items that are:
●Wet or damp
●Soiled with human or animal bodily fluids/feces, food, chemicals, or other
contaminants
●Perishable (e.g. food)
●Represent a health or safety hazard”

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