The Dog has reached her tipping point.
Call it critical mass, call it a population explosion of vagrants, but this urban-dwelling News-Dog has reached the end of our patience putting up with the out-of-control transient and vagrant population explosion that is currently gripping the city’s urban core.
First off, let’s make one thing clear: we’re not bagging on the homeless population. Not in the least.
Genuine homeless people often seek out the resources available for them to regain and rebuild their footing in society.
This column will be specifically about the vagrant population who continually refuse opportunities for day labor work and resources offered by social service agencies, preferring instead to live off the grid, scrapping for a living and begging at street corners and bus stops, and creating not only a public nuisance, but also a public health crisis given their hygiene, or lack thereof.
When our managing editor stood at the bus stop at St. John and Lawndale with her 5-year-old daughter, taking her on a story assignment to see Stonehenge at Union Station, she was joined by a regular crowd of vagrants who gather under the shade tree to share booze, drugs, and mooch money from passers-by on the public sidewalk brave enough to walk down that section of the street.
Our editor was asked for money no less than four times by the no-bus-pass individuals at the corner.
It was a serious enough situation that this CCW-licensed News-Pooch exited our building and kept a very close eye on the situation in case anything erupted.
Think about that for a moment.
A law-abiding public transportation patron couldn’t even wait at the bus stand, much less sit on the bus bench with her child, without fearing for her safety and the safety of her daughter.
That same crew migrates between Lawndale and Belmont along St. John, squatting in whatever vacant structure is available, taking whatever they’ve stolen with them into their hole for safe keeping.
The behavior of the vagrants on this corner was later defended by two members of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association Board on social media when the lawlessness was brought to their attention.
Other chronic locations in the community include the Colonnade at Concourse park, the intersection of Independence and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Independence Avenue and Topping near Price Chopper.
We recently covered in detail the ongoing crap-show at I-435 and Independence Avenue where a loving grandmother has been terrorized by large group of transients who hole up under the interstate, leaving a wake of trash and debris wherever they go and a huge headache for MODOT workers tasked with the cleanup of their jettisoned belongings.
A drive along any street abutting a wooded area at daybreak resembles a scene out of the Walking Dead as transients head to their corners to fly the sign for enough money for that 40-ounce or half pint of whiskey.
Cities like St. Joseph, Missouri, have eliminated beds for their transient population, opting instead to load them all on buses and transporting them to where? Kansas City, Missouri.
After disembarking from the bus terminal, they’re off in search of a cardboard box top, a magic marker, and a corner at which to fly the sign.
Police say their hands are tied and can’t do anything until they see a law being broken. The call for service doesn’t rate high on the priority list as more serious emergencies take priority over the half-naked vagrant urinating in public or peeling a downspout off a vacant house.
The Dog understands the paradigm and also thinks maybe it’s time to, in poker parlance, force a hand or two.
Time for some targeted enforcement on the law enforcement side, on the court side or on the mental health side.
Maybe the solution lies in a pink jump-suit and a litter poker cleaning up the mess they leave behind.
Maybe it’s resurrecting the old temporary restraining order solution once used by KCPD Northeast CAN Officers when the vagrancy situation escalated on Independence Avenue some twenty-some years ago.
Something needs to happen because the situation has gotten completely out of control.