A pair of Phoenix police officers are being recognized for helping an elderly couple reclaim their backyard after it was taken over by homeless campers.
According to a police spokesperson, officers Steve Fluty and Matt Morgan were on community outreach patrol in December when they met the Waschers. The couple explained that they've lived in the same home for nearly three decades but their backyard fence had since deteriorated and had created major problems for them.
Unable to afford the supplies to replace the fallen fence, several transients moved into their backyard and used their hose for water and their property as a restroom and campsite. Despite asking the people to leave on multiple occasions, they continued to come, and the Waschers were afraid of the repercussions if they forced them to leave.
Fluty helped escort all of the transients off the property and organized a cleanup for them later that same month. Two tons of litter and debris was taken out of the yard and Fluty continued to routinely check-in on the couple.
In January, a person returned to the yard but was arrested by Fluty and Morgan for trespassing. The suspect had brought more trash into the backyard and Morgan decided that a fence needed to be built to avoid future incidents.
Morgan reached out to Shannon McBride of Open Door Fellowship Church, near 19th and Northern avenues, and asked for their help collecting donations to cover the cost of the materials. Hurricane Holes, a local company, agreed to do the labor for free and Home Depot suppled the materials at a discounted cost.
On Feb. 25, a new fence was built for the Waschers who are "extremely appreciated of the hard work and dedication," a Phoenix police spokesperson said.