By Shirin Rajaee

MODESTO (CBS13) — The Modesto Police Department is accusing a nearby police department of dumping homeless people in their city.

“They were truly trying to solve their own problem by bringing their problem to our community,” said Sgt. Kalani Souza.

This stems from an August incident where Escalon police officers drove a homeless couple out of San Joaquin County to Modesto and dropped them off at a random location. The incident sparked uproar and prompted Escalon PD to release body camera video from that exchange.

The city of Escalon now standing firm behind their officers saying they were simply doing a welfare check and trying to help the homeless get the services they needed.

“I think our officers were trying to do a good deed,” said Escalon City Manager Tammy Alcantor.

Alcantor says body cam video shows the exchange, and how the couple had requested to be taken to a Modesto motel because an Escalon hotel had kicked them out.

“It wasn’t our intent in dumping homeless in Modesto, again we were trying to help two individuals get to services,” she said.

“We do feel that they were dumping their problems off because they were no longer welcome in the community of Escalon,” said Souza.

Modesto police received an anonymous photo from a resident who captured the Escalon officers dropping off the two homeless people at a Rite Aid on McHenry and Briggsmore avenues in Modesto. The couple had originally asked to be taken to a Modeto motel, but according to Escalon police, they changed their minds.

“Essentially bringing your problems here without letting us know, without having things set up for these people is very frustrating,” said Souza.

With homelessness being the number one issue MODESTO is trying to tackle, PD and Stanislaus County officials say this only adds to an already huge problem.

“In Stanislaus County, we had in 2017 1,661 homeless: 1,221 of them—or 74 percent—are in Modesto alone,” said Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa.

And since the couple was dropped off, police have allocated resources to them.

“They have set up a camp, they’re taking away from our local businesses. It’s essentially became a public nuisance,” said Souza.

The city of Escalon does depend on bigger cities such as Stockton and Manteca for wrap-around services for its homeless population. It recognizes that although Modesto is close by, officers did go outside their county.

“Unfortunately where we dropped them off at probably wasn’t the most appropriate maybe we should have talked to them more,” Alcantor said.

“If they have their support system in that community then let’s work with their support system to get them help and not bring their problem to another community,” said Souza.

Souza says it’s not uncommon for other counties or communities to ask for Modesto’s help with services, but the department needs to be notified so it can provide the proper care the homeless need.

Alcantor adds, “As our police chief also mentioned, if we were gonna dump the homeless, we wouldn’t do it in such a busy intersection, in the middle of the day in a black and white vehicle.”’

Shirin Rajaee

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