CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin responding to a proposed resolution regarding arrests on homeless people during the city’s upcoming Sternwheel Regatta said she can’t and won’t tell the police how to do their jobs.

Charleston City Council was set to meet Monday night with plans to address the agenda item, which was proposed by Councilman Joe Solomon to put a stop to enforcement on homeless residents caught violating city code during the Regatta.

Goodwin said she along with many other city council members expected the resolution to fail as it oversteps police authority.

Amy Shuler Goodwin

“City Council can’t tell the police not to do their jobs,” Goodwin said on 580 Live with Dave Allen Monday morning. “You just can’t do it Dave, and I’m not going to support that, not for one single second.”

The resolution seeks to quote, “address the treatment of unhoused individuals in Charleston, WV during Regatta week and weekend.”

This comes after a warrant sweep was conducted by the Charleston Police Department last year ahead of the 5-day festival which resulted in nearly 30 arrests.

Goodwin said she had heard from some members of council and residents following last year’s arrests, with many saying the move seemed to be a way for the city to make sure visitors were not in view of the homeless during Regatta and that it seemed borderline unconstitutional.

However, Goodwin said that most of the confusion and backlash from the move came as a direct result of not enough communication on the matter, and that the sweep was not targeted enforcement during the event but standard police practice ensuring arrest warrants are being properly carried out.

She said the city is passionate about caring for its homeless population despite justice having to come first.

“The majority of the comments that I’ve heard back is that our CARE Team does an incredible job, they just simply do,” Goodwin said. “We are a very compassionate administration, we take care of folks who need help, but if somebody has a warrant out for their arrest, they will be arrested.”

She said the city’s 9-member CARE Team works alongside police and first responders on a day-to-day basis to ensure people are getting the assistance they need.

Goodwin said last year’s move was in no way a reflection of the police department being uncaring or unfeeling, and based on the accounts she hears, quite the opposite is true.

“I listened to the story of one of our members of our CARE Team, our director, tell me that a couple of weeks ago, they were working with this guy who was having a super bad day, and one of our police officers spent an hour and a half, two hours looking for size twelve shoes for this guy, so don’t tell me our police are not compassionate people, they are,” she said.

She said the police will do what they have to do to ensure the city is safe and crime-free.

“They’re going to do their job, but they also have compassion, and that’s what I think people need to know about our police department,” said Goodwin.

Councilman Joe Solomon, proposing the resolution, has been a longtime supporter of the decriminalization of homeless people and believes that if the resolution is passed, it would cut back on unnecessary arrests in the city.

City Council meets at 7 p.m.

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