Denver, CO

Denver cops offer homeless man bus ticket anywhere

David Heitz

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Much has been written about Denver Police and their lack of sensitivity during homeless encampment sweeps.

However, some Denver cops are great. Just as the bad ones make the news, the good ones should, too.

While I have had several bad experiences with Denver police, I’ve had some good ones, too. One Denver cop even offered to buy me a bus ticket to anywhere I wanted to go once. Problem was, I could not think of anywhere to go.

I can remember another night a couple of years ago that a Denver cop really came through for me. I even remember the name from her badge: Officer Beauchamp. She said she went by “Beau” for short. I believe she patrolled District 2.

I had taken the bus to the city-owned 48th Street homeless shelter from Denver Rescue Mission. Shortly after arrival at the shelter, two men began to talk loudly sitting on the bed next to me. This is not allowed.

When I returned from using the restroom, one of the men had moved into my bed. When I reported the man had taken my bed, I was told to leave.

Some of these hooligans appear to be in cahoots with the volunteers and employees of the homeless shelters. Sometimes it feels like the gangbangers run the places. Rules sometimes are not enforced.

Officer Beau Beauchamp saves the night

I won’t forget the night I was thrown out of the 48th Street shelter. It was cold outside and spitting snow.

I walked probably two miles through an industrial area to a 7-Eleven. There, I asked to use the telephone and dialed 9-1-1.

When the dispatcher came on the line I explained I was homeless and had just been thrown out of a homeless shelter after reporting abuse. I explained I had nowhere to go and had a hernia that popped out.

The dispatcher sent Officer Beauchamp. Luckily, I had a few dollars in my pocket that night because a friend had sent me $20.

Beauchamp drove me to historic Tom’s Diner on Capitol Hill, where I spent the night sitting and drinking coffee.

I remember that night like it was last night. I appreciated the staff at Tom’s for treating me with respect and allowing me, a homeless person, to sit quietly in from the cold and drink free coffee refills.

Beauchamp listened to story about my hometown

I appreciated the fact Beauchamp listened to the story of how I became homeless. Essentially, I began to write about political corruption in my hometown of Rock Island, Ill. and my house was shot up. I was so scared I sold the house on a whim and moved to Denver.

I felt like Beauchamp believed my story, which was affirming. I am not sure why so many people did not want to believe I was a journalist, but I ran across doubters now and then.

So many people just want to believe all homeless people end up that way because of drug or alcohol abuse. That’s not usually the case, although one can and often does lead to the other.

Beauchamp, who I remember wore braces on her teeth, showed compassion that night. She told me if I ever needed any help to feel free to dial 9-1-1 and ask for her in District 2.

I did try to do that several times after that night. Never would a dispatcher patch any of my messages through to Beauchamp.

The Dr. Pepper cop

Then there was the cop who arrested me, but who bought me a Dr. Pepper first.

I had taken shelter under an overpass along the North Platte bicycle trail. I simply was sitting there.

The police said I was in violation of the camping ordinance. Three of them showed up on electric motorcycles you can’t hear coming.

They arrested me, but not without chatting with me a bit first. Somehow it got brought up that I was a gay Republican. One of the cops said he was a gay Republican, too.

He ended up going to 7-Eleven and buying me a Dr. Pepper before putting me in the back of the squad car.

What a heck of a nice guy. I like Dr. Pepper.

Cops who call ambulances are golden

I also am grateful to every cop who ever called an ambulance for me, whether I was suicidal or in excruciating hernia pain.

Some cops won’t call ambulances for homeless people. They harass you instead and accuse you of simply wanting a warm bed and a shower.

As if those are extreme desires.

I am grateful to every Denver cop who genuinely believes their duty is to protect and to serve. I can remember yet another night when I was sleeping on the bicycle trail behind Crossroads homeless shelter. Two exceedingly kind cops woke me up and urged me to go inside the shelter.

I explained I was not allowed inside the shelter because I reported abuse. It was a similar scenario to the 48th Street shelter.

These cops went inside the shelter and tried to get me permitted back inside but could not.

At least they tried.

Cops offer me bus ticket anywhere I want to go

At one point a couple of years ago, Denver Police offered to buy me a bus ticket anywhere I wanted to go. They simply asked I show them a note from someone willing to take me in and help me out.

I had no idea where I would go if I left Denver. I had nobody. If I did, I would not have ended up homeless in the first place.

I had a friend in Portland, Oregon, but she noted how depressing it can be there. We decided that probably wouldn’t be any better a scenario than me staying in Denver.

I could not accept a bus ticket now even if I wanted to. I do not have the identification required to ride a bus. I am still waiting on that from the state.

But I have no intention of leaving Denver. I like it here.

Still, offering to buy me a bus ticket was a nice gesture on behalf of Denver Police, for which I am grateful. I hope I can work together with them on some positive stories soon.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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