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Ripon nudges out homeless
Police offer transients their concern & support
An aerial view of a homeless encampment along the Stanislaus River spotted several years ago when the Ripon Police Department had a power parachute at their disposal. - photo by Photo Contributed

There is no homeless population living in Ripon thanks to the Ripon Police Department and the courtesies they extend when locating adult transients entering the community, according to Lt. Steve Merchant.

The police spokesman said his officers contact an average of three to four homeless individuals a week, mostly at the city’s three truck stops adjacent to Highway 99 and Jack Tone Road.  

“’Hey, is everything OK?’ is our usual greeting when we find a transient in the community,” he said.  “Mostly we just help the best way we can. We get more hitchhikers here than transients who have gotten a ride this far with a trucker – often (laying over) here quite a while waiting to get a ride to another destination.”

The officers will give transients they encounter bottles of water and often times buy them a cheeseburger and advise them of the Adult Protective Services (APS) at the county level.  

“We try to get someone to help them including the many Ripon churches that do their best to open their hearts to make a difference for those they find in need,” Merchant said.  

“We ask them about their health and welfare and whether anyone is bothering them – some refuse our help,” he said, “and, of course, we do background warrant checks.”

He further explained that the City of Ripon has no social services within the community. Those services are available in Stockton and Modesto and can be reached through the county’s bus system that runs through Ripon.

Officers continually patrol the banks of the Stanislaus River and its riparian woodlands to discourage encampments and camp fires. No overnight camping is allowed.  The river front is designated for day use only for hikers, bikers, fisherman and picnickers, Merchant added, with no motorized vehicles allowed.  

Ripon officers patrol the banks of the river on four wheeled quad motorcycles in search of encampments. For a three-year period they checked the area with an airborne patrol when camp sites were popping up along the Stanislaus.