SMPD: We are not dropping homeless off in Austin
SAN MARCOS, Texas - The San Marcos Police Department said, contrary to the statement they sent us on Wednesday, a man their officer dropped off in Austin was actually not homeless.
Today, the assistant chief said he wants to be clear his officers do not drop off homeless people in Austin. San Marcos police responded to a call in mid-June where officers met a shirtless man sleeping under a sign. “When he's put in the car, the officer asked him, ‘Where do you stay?’ And he gave an address,” said San Marcos Assistant Police Chief Brandon Winkenwerder.
That address was in North Austin. So the officer agreed to help him get him a little closer.
“We can't go all the way to North Austin through the traffic in Austin. You can tie someone up there an hour. He knew he could take public transportation from that point on and that was his plan,” Winkenwerder said.
Jennifer Hodges happened to see the man getting out of a San Marcos patrol car near Onion Creek Parkway. “It was when we got to the City of Austin line that the car pulled over and let out a person without a shirt and no shoes on,” said Hodges.
Her husband then called San Marcos police who, he said, told him they sometimes give homeless people rides because Austin has services available that San Marcos does not.
When FOX 7 Austin asked police what happened, Commander Erik Spriegel sent us this statement:
“Because of the way he was dressed, we were assuming the information we had about him being a transient was correct, and we released a base statement on what we generally do, and we shouldn't have done that generalization. We should've looked into it, like we did yesterday evening, and found out the actual story behind this individual,” said Winkenwerder.
Now, San Marcos police say the man is not homeless. “The idea being spread that we are moving our homeless population to other towns is not correct. San Marcos has our own homeless population that we are dealing with,” Winkenwerder said.
Although, they do sometimes give people a ride if there is a good reason. “Like they're traveling, or they can't get home, or they've been stranded like this individual was,” said Winkenwerder. “We run into people that are traveling. We don't ask them if they're homeless. And if they're traveling, and they need to get down the road, and they need a ride, if we've got the time, we've done it, yes,” he added.
Just like Austin, Winkenwerder said San Marcos is seeing an increase in their homeless population, and when San Antonio or Austin changes laws that affect the homeless population, San Marcos feels it too. “Well, what we find from those two metropolitan areas is, what they do tends to affect everybody. And they do have resources for homeless people that we do not. And they move back and forth to San Antonio and Austin, but we're not moving them to San Antonio or Austin,” said Winkenwerder.
San Marcos police drop off shirtless, shoeless man in South Austin