Iowa City Homeless Arrests Appear To Be Trending Up

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

Downtown Iowa City looking to the east can be seen in this photo taken from the top of the Plaza Towers building Wednesday, June 15, 2011 in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)


By Mark Carlson

IOWA CITY, Iowa - 20 percent of adults arrested in Iowa City this month have been homeless. Recent data from the Iowa City police blotter shows roughly 20 arrests have been made to people listed as transient, without an address, or living at Shelter House.

About 100 adults have been arrested within city limits this month, some people more than once.

Most of the arrests have made around the downtown area. Five homeless people have been charged and released for “smoking in prohibited areas” near the corner of Dubuque and Washington Streets this month. No one listed with an address has been charged for such an offense.

“Just because it’s listed as an arrest, doesn’t mean they’re going to jail,” said Iowa City police sergeant Vicki Lalla. “A lot of times people are just charged and released.”

Last August police acknowledged they were cracking down on pedestrian mall offenses. According to a previous report, just one person was charged for smoking on the Pedestrian Mall during that time.

Earlier this year the city put a full-time foot and bike patrol officer on the Ped Mall to focus on community relations. The move was heavily backed by the downtown district, which pays part of the officer’s salary.

“Any of these charges you’re seeing are going to be on repeat offenders,” said Lalla. “What [the officer] does is warn people and educate them.”

Lalla said police are not picking on the homeless.

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