Purchase of tents the ‘right thing,’ chief says

Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper on Tuesday said he personally approved the purchase of 11 new tents for transients who claimed their property was damaged at the hands of three of his officers early last month.

But Camper stopped short of saying internal policies or laws were violated in the incident, saying the findings of an internal investigation should soon be made public.

“We as a command staff felt it was the right thing to do,” Camper said of the purchase.

Camper said the department’s “damage repair — outside property” fund was tapped to the tune of $390 for the tents, which were purchased at a local Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The city budgeted $500 for the fund in 2010, which is set aside for payments to residents whose property is damaged in the course of police business, Camper said. The tent expenditure is the fund’s first use this year, he said.

The department tapped the same fund in 2009 when it paid $902 for repairing a local resident’s vehicle, Camper said.

Camper on Tuesday said the three officers at the center of a complaint lodged on May 5 by Grand Junction’s Jacob Richards remain on paid administrative leave.

Richards, co-founder of the homeless advocacy group, Housing First! No More Deaths!, has said patrol officers delivered the tents to his home Saturday. Richards on Monday said he had distributed the shelters to five people whose property was damaged. He said he was trying to track down six others along the banks of the Colorado River.


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