AMES – Ames leaders are going to review how they handle complaints about homeless camps in the light of the death of ISU golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena.
According to a city-issued email, Ames Police and officials with the Ames Parks and Recreation Department “continue to review current policies and practices.”
“As citizens of Ames, we appreciate our city because it is safe, and we value the many organizations working together to continue making Ames a safe place to live,” said Ames Mayor John Haila. “I encourage every resident to take an active role in improving safety by alerting officials to concerns and sharing information when something seems amiss.”
Currently, Ames city officials deal with complaints about a homeless camp by investigating a claim, and then the area is posted “no camping” and staff revisits the area to ensure compliance. In working with social service organizations, Ames officials are now exploring a more proactive approach to homelessness.
“In the past, when we’ve identified people living on public property, we have worked with the Emergency Residence Project and local social services to move them into safer housing,” said Ames Police Chief Chuck Cychosz. “We are re-evaluating the current practice of primarily being complaint driven and are looking at ways we can routinely visit the interior of public areas without waiting for complaints.”
The Ames Police Department, as well as Parks and Recreation, are concentrating on parkland and green spaces with a focus on safety-related maintenance and activities in and around trails, lighting, monitoring of wooded areas, and vegetation management. Throughout the community, there are many safety initiatives already in place.
The Ames Police Safe Neighborhoods Team is made up of five officers who concentrate efforts in “hotspots.” This team focuses on problem-solving-enforcement, extra patrol, and surveillance. They supplement the patrol activities of area officers.
Additionally, parks and facilities undergo a Crime Prevention review right now in Ames. Police officers certified in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) work with city staff and private entities to design and operate facilities and park areas in a safe manner. Several properties have completed a review process to become certified Crime Free Housing.
“Celia Barquín Arozamena’s death is shocking, and we are looking at every community resource to address the safety of those who live in our community or visit,” Cychosz said. “We have started this review process and will continue it over the coming weeks. This will be a City of Ames effort, but also a community-wide discussion.”