- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Veterans on Patrol is operating camps for homeless individuals in Arizona and expanding outreach in Tucson to other parts of the community.

Military-style tents, 24-hour security and free meals are offered to veterans and women who stay at the camp near Tucson’s Santa Rita Park, The Arizona Daily Star reports (https://bit.ly/21bTmGl ).

Men who are not veterans can camp for three days before they need to start helping out. Members have started regular visits to other Tucson homeless camps.

Veterans on Patrol set up Camp Alpha in Phoenix three months ago, followed by Tucson’s Camp Bravo about six weeks ago and the recent establishment of Camp Charlie in Nogales.

The group began Operation Park Sweep at the Tucson camp earlier this month, putting body cameras on undercover members and posting signs warning campers that dealing drugs or behaving violently will lead to calls to law enforcement.

Members say in one week, 29 syringes were found in the park. Some people in the group carry weapons on their hips.

Group founder and program director Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer said the goal is not to get people arrested, but members will report issues to police and even detain a person until authorities can arrive.

Meyer acknowledged that could be considered “borderline vigilante.”

Tucson police Sgt. Pete Dugan says the department has a working relationship with Meyer’s group.

“It really does appear they are out there helping the community and veterans,” Dugan said.

Rebecca DeLauer said she became homeless after losing a job. She says her ex-boyfriend harassed anyone who tried to help her, but he can’t intimidate Veterans on Patrol members.

“I can go to sleep without worrying,” she said.

Danny Barry, a homeless man who started camping at Santa Rita Park four months ago, says the group members are trying to be law enforcement.

“They need to just go,” Barry said. “They’re vigilantes.”

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Information from: Arizona Daily Star, https://www.tucson.com


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