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How Transit Police help the homeless through the cold

Last Updated Dec 5, 2018 at 2:08 pm PDT

(Courtesy: Metro Vancouver Transit Police)

Metro Vancouver Transit Police's chief says officers will try to help homeless people through the cold weather

People living on the streets of Metro Vancouver who can't or won't go to shelters find other ways to stay warm

METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Temperatures will drop below zero once again Wednesday night, but that won’t stop some people from sleeping on the street.

Police are all too familiar with those who prefer not to be in a shelter.

“That’s always a tough one for our officers,” Metro Vancouver Transit Police Cheif Barry Kross says. “If somebody chooses to stay on the street, ultimately that’s their decision. We can’t force somebody into a shelter.”

He says if an officer encounters someone who refuses to go indoors during the cold, the main priority is just to help them any way they can.

“We’ve got blankets that we hand out to people that are on the streets that are in need if they don’t want to go to shelter,” Kross tells NEWS 1130. “We’ve got officers that hand out those little hot packs for their hands.”

LISTEN: NEWS 1130’s Tim James speaks with a local police chief about homelessness and cold weather

In the past, Kross says some of his officers have even opened up their wallet to help.

“With their own resources, we’ll buy a hot cup of coffee, things of that nature, to help somebody through their day.”

Officers are also willing to help those who are looking for a way inside. Kross says police will offer anyone on the street who would like to go to a shelter a ride, including those who are riding the SkyTrain simply to stay warm.

“Sometimes just finding a bed, getting a bite to eat, a warm shower can be very life-changing for a person so we really want to do our very, very best to provide that for them and to get them to those shelters that are available.”

Some people living in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park have said they don’t feel safe at shelters and would prefer to stay outdoors. Others say they’ll go to 24-hour restaurants to warm up, keep moving throughout the night, or even duck into hotel lobbies when temperatures dip.

-With files from Ash Kelly