Officers work to get homeless Indy residents off the streets, into shelters as temperatures plunge

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As temperatures in Indianapolis plunge toward sub-zero levels, the men and women of IMPD’s “homeless Unit” are working to get those without a home off the street and into warm shelters.

As long as temperatures stay dangerously low, the four-person unit will spend their nights scouring homeless camps throughout the city to make sure those in the cold don’t succumb to the frigid air.

“We want to make sure we’re out there providing whatever services we can trying to engage them and trying to get them into a shelter,” Officer Pat McPherson said.

According to a 2018 Point-in-Time Count there were 1,682 homeless people identified in Indianapolis. When the weather turns dangerously cold, McPherson says most of those people make their way to a shelter, or warmer accommodations.

“The majority of folks, they’ve already found a place to stay. But you got some hardcore guys who don’t want to go in a shelter for whatever reason,” McPherson said.

McPherson adds that it’s the unit’s job to engage those who remain outdoors in the hopes of diverting them to shelters.

“We’ll stay out as long as we need to accomplish the mission,” he said.

If those they encounter want to stay outdoors, officers provide them with items such as additional blankets, hats, scarfs, and hand warmers. The unit often checks back in with those who choose to stay in the cold as temperatures continue to drop.

“We’ll stop back later tonight as it gets colder, and if we need to move them to a shelter, we’ll make a decision then,” McPherson said.

McPherson says he hopes more homeless individuals will decide to take the unit up on their offers of help as the temperature continues to drop. He adds that they will continue to make homeless camp checks on Wednesday and Thursday.

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