Did an Escalon police officer dump two homeless people in Modesto on Wednesday after they wore out their welcome in the tiny San Joaquin city just north of here?
That’s what Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll is saying. He said Escalon police should have taken the two transients to homeless service providers or motels in San Joaquin County and not brought them here.
“That’s not the way you do stuff,” Carroll said. “San Joaquin County has homeless services ... There are plenty of motels in Manteca, Stockton without having to cross the county line. I’ve been doing this job a long time, and one of the ways of getting rid of your problems is to take them to another city.”
Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges said that is not what happened.
He said officers conducted a welfare check around 11 a.m. Wednesday after receiving a report of a man lying on the sidewalk in the 1600 block of Main Street. A woman and another man were with him.
Borges said the man was fine and said he had just come from Manteca. Borges said the three told officers that Emil’s — Escalon’s only motel — would not rent them a room.
The man had several hundred dollars on him, and officers asked him where he wanted to go. Borges said the man said he wanted to go the Budgetel Inn & Suites on McHenry Avenue in Modesto.
A sergeant cleared an officer to drive the man and the woman to the Budgetel. Borges said the other man was arrested on a warrant. Borges said the man and woman changed their mind about the Budgetel and the officer dropped them off a few blocks short of the motel in the Rite Aid parking lot at McHenry and Briggsmore avenues.
“The only thing I’m disappointed in is my officer did not drop them off where they requested to go and listened to them when they changed their mind,” Borges said. “... Had he dropped them off at the motel, I don’t think we would be having this conversation.”
Borges said his officers can provide courtesy transportation to people stranded in Escalon if they have the time. He said in other instances, officers make arrangements with others to provide transportation. He said his department was not pushing its problems to another city.
“If I was dumping homeless people in Modesto, I certainly would not have dumped them in one of the busiest intersections in Modesto with a black and white,” he said.
Borges identified the man who had been lying on the sidewalk as 57-year-old Dante Ciraolo; his last known address lists him as a transient. He said Escalon police have had contact with him since 1997. He said Ciraolo has family in Escalon but is estranged from them. Emil’s Motel confirmed Ciraolo had stayed there in the past but was no longer welcome.
Borges said Ciraolo apparently moves from city to city in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties and expects he will be back in Escalon. Borges did not have information about the woman.
Carroll said one of his watch commanders called Escalon police Wednesday and learned Ciraolo is well known to officers there and was no longer welcome at motels in Escalon and Manteca. Carroll said the appropriate response would have been to take him to service providers in San Joaquin County.
“You are not solving the problem by passing it on to another location,” Carroll said.
Reports have spread for years that Modesto, among other communities, is a dumping ground for the homeless. Those reports have been unfounded.
The two chiefs exchanged emails over this incident. Modesto police became aware of it Wednesday when a passerby took a photo of the Escalon officer dropping the man and woman off in the Rite Aid parking lot with their possessions. The passerby sent a message with the photo to the Modesto Police Department’s Facebook page.
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