Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday that the homeless have been targeted since February in Operation Clean Sweep, a crackdown that focuses on quality-of-life crimes using the same computer-assisted strategy that the NYPD uses to drive down major crimes.
Kelly said that while "being homeless is not a violation of the law," trespassing and sleeping in city parks are against the law.
"Basically, what our outreach program does is contact homeless people and offer them assistance, shelter and hospitalization," he said.
That was certainly not the policy on E. Fourth St. yesterday, where several witnesses watched officers from the Ninth Precinct verbally abuse a pair of homeless men and throw their Styrofoam shelter into a city garbage truck.
"Don't talk to me like I have a heart, because I don't!" one beefy cop told the pair, according to Joseph Esposito, 37, who witnessed the exchange on his way to work.
At no time were any services offered to the men, said Esposito, an assertion later backed up by the pair in an interview with the Daily News.
"Instead of just saying, 'Hey, listen, you have to leave,' it was, 'I don't ever want to see you in my precinct again,'" said one of the men, who refused to give his name out of fear of reprisal. "They gave us nothing."
Good for the Daily News! These two articles were on the same page today.