IMPACT

Cleveland Calls On Homeless To Help Report Suspicious Activity During RNC

They're looking out for suspicious activity and tourists posing as homeless people.
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 23: A homeless man who goes by the name Cleveland displays a cup containing money from panhandling on Octo
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 23: A homeless man who goes by the name Cleveland displays a cup containing money from panhandling on October 23, 2009 in New York City. In a recently released report by the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless it was revealed that the numbers of homeless people using New York City shelters each night has reached an all time high. Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office eight years ago there has been a 45 percent increase in shelter use with over 39,000 homeless people, including 10,000 homeless families, checking in to city shelters every evening. The group also said that 2009 has turned out to be 'the worst on record for New York City homelessness since the Great Depression. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

With 50,000 visitors expected to descend on Northeast Ohio for the Republican National Convention this week, police are looking to all available eyes and ears to help keep the city safe.

That includes Cleveland’s homeless residents.

On Tuesday night, police visited at least two homeless encampments to elicit help from people living there, according to City Lab. Officers are urging them to report any outsiders who may be posing as homeless people or anyone engaging in suspicious activity. 

“The homeless who live down near the river have told tourists and people from out of town that they cannot stay down with them,” Brian Davis, executive director at the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH), told Cleveland Scene. “They have told them they have to move on—not wanting any trouble or making police intervene.” 

The organization handed out fact sheets to give homeless people an idea of what to look out for and changes in security protocols during the convention. 

In addition to asking homeless people to report suspicious activity, the flyers alerted them to camping restrictions and information about where to seek out shelter and resources. 

A man who goes by “Ice,” and lives at the Men’s Shelter, heeded the call to keep Cleveland’s streets safe, according to WKYC.

When he saw someone taking pictures underneath the Detriot-Superior Bridge, Ice chased the person away and called in the incident.

While some homeless people are willing to get involved, advocates say the increased security measures are wreaking havoc on their efforts.

Davis told the news outlet that the NEOCH had to shut down its drop-in center because it wasn’t able to hire additional security, but the shelters will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

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