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Police also deal with cut thru commuters
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A homeless man collects his property from his tent camp surrounded by tumble weeds east of Jack Tone Road and north of the truck stops. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin

Ripon has its homeless, too, as well as commuters who have been bypassing the backed-up Highway 120 and Highway 99 freeways to detour through the surface streets of Ripon to reach points south of the Stanislaus River.

 That’s just two of the issues Ripon Police deal with on a typical day.

A Thursday afternoon ride-along with Ripon Police Officer Gordon West included dealing with two homeless encampments – one occupied by a woman and the other by a 47-year-old man in an almond orchard east of Jack Tone Road near the truck stops.

It was a call from an industrial firm near the camps that brought officers to the orchard where they found one make-shift tent was almost totally hidden and surrounded by tumble weeds and the other nearby.  Both occupants checked out to be clear of any warrants but they were told if they were found camping in Ripon a second time the infraction they were cited for on Thursday it would become a misdemeanor that could possible carry jail time.

Officer West said the industrial businesses north of Highway 99 and east of Jack Tone Road keep an eye out for new encampments because they fear the homeless may encroach on their property during the nights and weekends causing damage.  The city ordinance was adopted to counter that possibility.

West responded to the camping call by going north on Jack Tone and pulling in between a row of almond trees until he reached the encampment at the far side of the orchard finding the man with his bicycle between the trees and having a child’s stroller filled with some of his possessions.

Officer Ken Husman arrived in a second police unit. They explained the law to the camper and told him why it would be impossible for him to remain in that field that night before writing him a citation for illegal camping.

When the officers reiterated he would have to leave, he walked through the tumbleweeds and pulled several blue milk crates from his tent and walked them back to where he had left his bicycle. The woman camper had already left earlier in the day. 

Later while on the ride along with West – an officer for 16 ½ years – he explained the police department had been receiving many complaints from citizens about traffic speeding into the city from the west during commute hours.

“Traffic backs up on South Stockton Street and on Second Street,” he said, as it approaches the Highway 99 southbound onramp from Ripon’s downtown.  

Commuters either enter Highway 99 toward Modesto or go north over the freeway and connect to River Road and drive eastward toward Escalon, Riverbank and Modesto. Many have driven down through the center of the business community, turning south on Stockton Street toward the Second Street overpass causing what police say is undue congestion Riponites are not used to facing in the small community.

Before the ride along ended at shift change, there was another call about a 3-year-old toddler with a high fever.  The fire department responded with and engine and its ambulance but West was on the scene first saying the police department always tries to help in stabilizing the situations the best they can before medics arrive. 

Also, when major accidents occur on Highway 99, the Ripon Police Department units are usually first on the scene often with an ambulance having to come from Manteca or Escalon when Ripon’s is already on a call.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email