Created: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 06:16:00 EST
Updated: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 06:39:45 EST
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- Officials helping the homeless get the assistance they need are targeting suspected troublemakers possibly trying to interfere.
Thursday afternoon, Columbia police officers were called to break up a fight near the 2000 block of Main Street. The altercation occurred between suspected troublemakers officials believe are preying on the homeless. Some homeless individuals have said the so-called 'criminal element' are keeping them from making progress toward rehabilitation.
Pastor Jimmy Jones of Christ Central Ministries, the organization tasked with converting the city's winter shelter into a 24-hour emergency homeless shelter later this month, says officials working to make sure displaced citizens get the help they need are also aware of potential problems.
"For 21 months we've been doing observation and a lot of surveillance as to how the vice is intermingling with the homeless, how the homeless are impacted by people they have no control over and are causing issues for our city," said Jones.
He would not say if his organization is working with police to making any arrests. A spokesperson for Columbia Police says she cannot reveal which areas of the city are under surveillance.
Jones points out the emergency shelter will not completely solve the Capitol City's homelessness issue, but says it is an important first step.