OGDEN – Temperatures reaching below freezing have Ogden city leaders asking the public to help them find homeless people and bring them out of the cold.
Between the hours of four and eight p.m., every single available police officer in Ogden was assigned to comb the streets of the city to look for homeless camps or individuals who appear to be staying outside.
While officers are patrolling the streets outside, inside the Ogden City Police Department headquarters, you can see boxes of donations from people who want to help those in need. These donations include clothing like hats and coats. Other donors are supplying things like food. Jessie Jean’s Cafe Owner Anna Davidson says there are needy people all around the city.
“It’s just all over, really,” she says. “A lot of time, [the homeless are] not going to tell you where they hide because they don’t want to get in trouble.”
Officers say, it’s true, the homeless usually don’t want to be approached by the police, for any reason. That’s why they’re reaching to the public for help. They want help finding people who are normally trying to stay away from authorities.
“When we’re reaching out to the community, right now, mainly what we’re doing is asking for any individuals who might have seen anyone who is in need of shelter to please reach out to us,” according to Ogden Police Lieutenant Will Farr.
It’s not enough for officers to just make sure homeless people have enough protection from the weather. Too often, Farr says homeless people underestimate how deadly the cold can be, and they frequently overestimate how prepared they are for the elements.
He says, “We don’t want them to be stranded. We don’t want them to be in a situation where it’s, now, too late.”
This isn’t the first time the police department has made this kind “wellness sweep,” and Farr hopes it’s not the last.
“[We want to] do the same thing on a regular basis where we reach out to the community, volunteers, or whoever else we can to try to help us do this, not just this one time, but on a frequent basis,” he says.
The Ogden Fire Department is also on hand to provide first aid for anyone who might be injured from the cold.
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