There are perceptions about Sacramento's homeless population that are based on emotion and misinformation.
Some are so sympathetic to the plight of the homeless that they promote the inaccurate notion of the American River Parkway being populated by families who've been displaced by a terrible economy.
There is no question there are impoverished men, women and children in Sacramento's homeless shelters.
But along the American River, the picture is far more complex.
Statistics compiled by Sacramento County officials reveal another side of this story people illegally camping on the American River who have criminal records.
This is hardly surprising, but the topic is a sacred cow in Sacramento. In a region with a strong homeless lobby, a conventional wisdom has grown that discourages truth telling.
Recently, I ended a column by stating that I feared a heinous crime could be committed in the parkway. Why?
When you combine fewer law enforcement officers because of government budget cuts, remote terrain and a growing sense of lawlessness, bad things can happen.
Hiking the trails myself, I could imagine unspeakable acts far from public view, such as a child abduction.
I couched this as a personal fear my opinion and yet some became enraged and called me a "fear monger."
Let's review the facts.
On Sept. 12, Sacramento County parks rangers and Sacramento police did a warrants sweep of illegal campers on the American River Parkway.
I'm still getting all the numbers, but one of the men picked up that day is on California's Megan's Law registry of convicted sex offenders. He was convicted of committing a lewd act with a child under the age of 14. Another had pleaded no contest to having unlawful sex with a minor.
Yet another man warned about illegal camping in the parkway last week shows up on Megan's list as a convicted rapist.
To state these facts is not to "demonize" people, as some homeless advocates like to say when confronted with this information.
This is simply the truth.
So far, I have statistics on 25 people 20 men, five women who were picked up for outstanding warrants by Sacramento authorities on Sept. 12. The charges they have faced include: arson, domestic violence, child abuse, resisting arrest, gun possession, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, battery, car theft and public drunkenness.
There were numerous drug charges as well.
People who live near the American River Parkway know some parts of the area are out of control.
It's past time for the public to realize it and for Sacramento city and county authorities to develop a long-lasting, methodical approach to policing the parkway.