Columnists, Crime, Denver, Jon Caldara, Politics, Uncategorized

Caldara: The vagrant who sleeps under my window

(Editor’s note: You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)

I’m not asking a lot. I just want the vagrant who sleeps under my window to go somewhere else. Anywhere else.

I just want this druggie to stop sleeping under my office window because I’m tired of cleaning up after him like I’m his freaking hotel maid.

You may note that after years of this I have lost sympathy for the “plight” of street people.

I’ve gone to enough over-priced hotels lately that, due to a labor shortage, no longer offer maid service, to be giving this guy my maid service for free.

I have the honor of running Independence Institute. More than a decade ago we were proud to purchase a permanent home just blocks away from the State Capitol. Long story short, we and our supporters are absurdly proud of the place, as you likely are of your own home.

If only the city were a fraction as proud.

Though I’m sure it thrills our collectivist opponents to no end, we need to spend more and more of our donors’ money and our energy away from our mission to instead fortify our handsome home from the transients who carelessly destroy it. They often descend on our property after dark to camp, and usually leave before we return in the morning.

Vomit, urine, litter, bottles and condoms have all been a regular clean-up chore. Not that cleaning up other peoples’ feces isn’t a joy for us — we did choose to clean up after politicians, mind you — we just hoped it’d be a figurative thing.

Staying up on the vagrants’ food waste is crucial because otherwise it invites even more uninvited guests: mice.

Their discarded used syringes are copious and scattered. Fortunately, we just have the interns walk around barefoot until we find them all.

Call the cops you say? You are adorable.

At best the police just chase the bums off if they show up in time. In frustration I called 911 recently (we usually call the non-emergency number) to be put on hold for three minutes before being cut off. I called back and got through after another three-minute hold.

Helpful crime tip — to avoid bleeding to death, always call 911 three minutes before being shot.

The poor cops that came hours later looked like death warmed over. You see, the DPD is down some 200 to 300 officers.

Why? Here’s some insight: One told me he just arrested a guy for stealing five cars. Later that same afternoon he arrested the very same guy for (drumroll …) stealing a car. Thanks to the new laws no one stays in jail for more than a few hours for a non-violent crime.

At considerable expense we made our beautiful building “bum resistant,” installed security systems, alarms, reworked landscape. We use our lawn sprinklers to keep vagrants from encamping.

But this hasn’t stopped one or two very persistent drug users who have found our bushes the perfect vacation getaway.

We throw away all their stuff they leave — apparently, we’re their storage unit too — to try to make it as unwelcoming as possible. This includes boxes, bags, clothes, blankets and pillows (they have pillows). But they keep coming back with more stuff. People keep giving them more stuff! We had to pay for a larger roll-away trash bin for it all.

If they didn’t get more supplies, they might have to go into the shelters at night where they could get the help they need. So, for God’s sake, please stop subsidizing this guy’s behavior. It’s the first rule in public policy — what you subsidize you get more of. There’s Colorado’s transient problem in a nutshell.

The costs continue. We needed to file an insurance claim for roof damage. But with the added costs of all the property crime insurance claims around the neighborhood, including our own vagrant break-in and robbery, our insurance company decided to drop our coverage altogether.

Non-violent crime doesn’t mean non-costly crime.

I get it. I am the furthest thing from a sympathetic character to lots of folks.

But if it’s happening to me and taking away this much in time, money and energy from my organization, what’s it doing to the organizations you support and the businesses you frequent?

When we at Independence don’t have to work so hard to stop criminals from sleeping under my window, it will be a sign Colorado’s economy is improving, saving you money.

So, care about that.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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