(FOX40.COM) — The data from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, which covers the last seven months of criminal activity at encampments across the county, reveals that there were more than 300 arrests and 400 sexual assaults.
Sheriff Jim Cooper said, “It’s pretty much been the wild west out there, and we’ve got to change that.”
The sheriff says he’s trying his best to protect an unsupervised section of Sacramento County.
“I’m going to do what’s good for the citizens of Sacramento County, and if it makes somebody mad, so what? I’m not sorry.”
The sheriff’s office shared new data, which was collected from January through June this year, that pinpoints the dangers the unhoused face inside their encampments.
In that time, the numbers show about 930 people were approached by the sheriff’s homeless outreach team, about 600 citations issued, 220 arrested for misdemeanors, and more than 100 picked up on felonies.
“If there’s criminal activity, we’re going to deal with it,” Cooper said. “Whether you’re housed or unhoused, you deserve to live in a safe place.”
The sheriff also said that the living space is not safe for unhoused women. Four-hundred-twenty women were physically abused and 400 were raped.
“To see these numbers and to know that it’s vastly underreported by two or three times, I mean that’s high. Significantly higher,” said Cooper.
“And what frustrates me is those advocates, those navigators. They’ve been out there a long time, they never thought to ask that question. They have no data or statistics,” he added.
Bob Erlenbusch, a forty-year homeless advocate in California, was not thrilled with the sheriff’s sentiment.
“That’s just false,” he said. “The sheriff should’ve known this if he looked at any of our reports.”
The executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness posts an annual unhoused death report. His outreach team devises it after speaking to unhoused Sacramentans about violence in their encampments.
“I would guess that the percentage of homeless women being raped approaches well over 90 percent. This is nothing new,” said Erlenbusch.
Erlenbusch tells FOX40.com that this staggering statistic is what feeds the cycle of substance abuse.
“I’ve had many women say, ‘You know, Bob, I was never a meth addict until I became homeless. Now I take meth to stay up at night, so I won’t be attacked.”