TUCSON, Ariz. — The Tucson Police Department's Park Safety Team is reminding the community not to feed the homeless population at parks around the city.
The issue was first brought up on social media recently, but not due to any specific incident, according to Sgt. Jason Winsky.
Without a health and a Parks and Rec permit, distributing food at parks is illegal.
Please read this announcement. As a unit we are trying our best to educate the public for a better partnership. Please email TPDParkSafety@tucsonaz.gov for any concerns.— Tucson Police Park Safety (@ParkTpd) February 7, 2020
Thank you in advance. pic.twitter.com/IIKbrDDe61
Even though providing food to others may seem like a harmless good deed, Sgt. Winsky says it often leads to more cleanup efforts for park staff, and creates a health hazard to the public.
"There's a lot that goes into these considerations," Sgt. Winsky said. "Like people with food allergies, or do people have insurance? Or, is there going to be another food distribution already happening at that park, at the same time, and how much space can we fit?"
TPD says giving out food may also lead to an increase in the homeless population, and goes against the city's efforts to provide drug and mental health rehabilitation services to those in need.
Tucson's City Code states some penalties could lead to citations or even jail time for handing out food in parks without a permit.
The Park Safety Team encourages those who want to get involved and give back to work with non-profits and faith based organizations who have the legality and capacity to do so.