Modesto City Councilman Danny Madrigal paid a visit to the Escalon City Council Chambers on Monday night with a question and a request. He questioned the practice of ‘relocating’ the homeless to his city and issued a request the two councils work together to address the issue.
Madrigal said he was concerned about what appeared to be an Escalon Police Officer “dropping off” some transients at a spot in Modesto one day last week.
A photo of the incident was taken, posted on Social Media and took off from there, said Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges.
He assured Madrigal that his officers did not “relocate” a homeless person to Modesto.
The subject in question, Borges explained, is well known to local authorities and has family in the Escalon area.
“He is estranged from them but had just gotten back into the area,” Borges told The Times.
After arriving in the city with another man and woman, the male subject attempted to secure a room at a local motel to stay in while he was here. However, due to past problems at the location, the chief said he was not able to rent a room.
As the situation unfolded late morning-early afternoon on Wednesday, Aug. 15, officers ultimately got involved and the other male subject with the group was taken into custody on a warrant. The former local resident then asked if officers could take him and his female companion to a hotel in Modesto so they could obtain lodging for the night.
Borges said his officer got the transport cleared, and while on the way to the desired location, the subject instead asked to be dropped off at a different location.
That happened to be at a busy intersection in Modesto, where the photo was taken.
“It certainly is not our policy to ‘drop off’ people; in this case there was a specific request for transportation,” Borges said. “If assistance is requested, we try to help, not drop them off on a street corner in Modesto.”
Mayor Jeff Laugero told Madrigal that he had already reached out to Modesto officials and wanted to assure him that Escalon is not sending homeless to their city.
“It is a situation that has erupted,” Laugero agreed of the homeless issue. “We very much value the relationship we have with Modesto and Stanislaus County and it’s important that everybody is on the same sheet of music.”
Madrigal said he came for clarification and noted that he is part of a volunteer group that works each week to clean up an area and trail on the west side of Modesto. He simply wanted to make sure that homeless from other areas were not being relocated to his city.
On another police note at Monday night’s council meeting, Chief Borges told council members that a Saturday night pursuit, shortly before midnight, ended north of the city limits and resulted in the arrest of two juveniles – a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old, one from the Bay area and one from Ceres. The two were found to be driving a stolen car and had both alcohol and drugs in the vehicle, Borges said.