The Chico police Target team posted notices at the encampments Monday, giving transients 48-hour notice concerning the Wednesday morning sweep and advising them to remove any belongings they didn't want confiscated and destroyed.
The sweep, which also included code enforcement officers, began under the Pine Street bridge at Little Chico Creek, where one resident was found. The check of a bridge under Chestnut Street turned up no campers. A Salem Street bridge encampment was also empty, but police found a large collection of items including couches, mattresses and other furniture. Some had to be fished out of the creek by city public works crews.
An encampment near Ivy Street was similarly littered with possessions transients had left behind.
At 310 Nord Ave., near Warner Petroleum, four people were found still occupying a posted transient camp. Police arrested two men at that location.
One, Michael Taylor, 58, was taken into custody for being in possession of drug paraphernalia and a parole violation.
Another man, identified as Cory Lagasse, 24, was arrested on a warrant. Police Sgt. Rob Merrifield said Lagasse had a nice fold-out bed positioned right beside the creek and was apparently reluctant to abandon the spot.
Merrifield said two other people, who had been warned about illegal camping several times, were issued citations for the misdemeanor offense.
About three weeks ago, Chico police launched a program called HELP that gives transients an opportunity to return to their hometowns or other areas where they may get help and support to get off the streets.
Merrifield said most transients contacted by police have shown little interest in the program, especially with warmer weather making it more comfortable to live in the open.
"They know about the shelters and the help that's available, but most prefer to live on their own," he said.
HELP, which stands for Homeless Evaluation Liaison Program, had had some success however.
Merrifield said one transient has been relocated to Boston, and another to Sacramento. One transient contacted Wednesday reportedly said he might also be interested in getting assistance.
The program provides a one-way bus ticket and food provided by the Jesus Center.
Merrifield said officers call contacts in cities where transients want to relocate to make sure there is help and support waiting on the other end.
Police did a similar encampment sweep about a month ago.