[Hpn] Salt Lake Tribune: Sheriff reacts to homeless-woman incident with open mind

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Thu, 9 Jun 2005 07:48:18 -0400


Sheriff reacts to homeless-woman incident with open mind

By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune


   Millard County Sheriff Ed Phillips said Wednesday that he will speak to
his colleagues to the south about the deaf-mute homeless woman they
deposited into his jurisdiction.
    But he does not plan to chew them out.
    Phillips said he disapproves of Beaver County sheriff's deputies'
dropping the woman off at a Millard County gas station in the early morning
of May 30. However, the sheriff also expressed some sympathy for Beaver
County - and other rural communities that have limited resources for the
homeless.
    "Certainly, it's a bad situation, a very unfortunate situation,"
Phillips said of the Beaver County incident. "Why it happened I haven't had
a clue. I haven't spoken with the sheriff or anyone else in Beaver County.
    Taking transients or troublemakers to the county line is largely a thing
of the past, Phillips said.
    "Twenty or 30 years ago, it was fairly common. Either that or putting
them on a bus. Now that's almost impossible to do."
    On the night of the incident, the Beaver County deputies cited
39-year-old Michelle Bradford for trespassing. Bradford - a deaf-mute woman
to whom Beaver County had provided assistance in the past - told deputies
she wanted to go to Salt Lake City.
    Deputies or county corrections officers then drove Bradford north into
Millard County and released her about 1 a.m. May 30 at a Cove Fort service
station, said Beaver County Sheriff Kenneth Yardley.
    At the service station, Bradford said she was having chest pains and was
taken by ambulance to Fillmore Community Medical Center, where she was
treated and released later in the morning.
    Barry Christensen, a Salt Lake City resident traveling from Fillmore
that day, told The Salt Lake Tribune that he and his wife encountered
Bradford at a gas station in Fillmore and gave her a ride to the Greyhound
bus station in Salt Lake City. Bradford, communicating by writing, told the
couple she was going to California, he said.
    Yardley said he learned of the Bradford incident later and has ordered
an investigation into his deputies' actions.
    Phillips said he believes the Bradford case was an isolated incident.
    "I think they're totally embarrassed over it right now," Phillips said.
    Phillips said transients are a problem for rural law enforcement.
Neither Beaver nor Millard county has a homeless shelter. Phillips said his
office gives homeless people vouchers they can redeem for a meal or motel
room, but those vouchers are only for a short stay.
    "We can't have all the facilities and resources that we'd like to have,"
Phillips said, "and I don't suppose they do, with the volume they deal with,
in the large communities either."
    ncarlisle@sltrib.com