RCPD "Cold Patrol" helping the homeless find warmth when temperatures drop

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When temperatures drop, so does the amount of people who go outside.
But, some of Rapid City's most vulnerable members of the community don't have that option and are stuck out in the cold.
That's where Rapid City Police's "Cold Patrol" comes in, helping those in need get off the streets and bringing a little warmth to their day.

Senior Patrolman with the Rapid City Police Department, Fred Baxter, says, "Downtown is one of our focus areas for those individuals. We come down, we make contact with them, we talk to them. A lot of them I know by first name basis and they know me by my first name also."

Creating a relationship with the homeless population in Rapid City.
The Street Crimes Unit makes it a priority this time of year to check on the homeless out in the cold.
Becoming known as the "Cold Patrol.
Patrolling not just the downtown area, but the parks and bike path as well.
Because when the temperatures drop, outside becomes an unsafe place for the homeless to hang out.
And unfortunately, Officer Baxter says a lot of the homeless population they deal with on a daily basis are intoxicated, making the conditions even more unsafe.

Baxter says, "They don't realize how cold they actually are and they don't realize that alcohol thins their blood, so it makes you even less safe to be out and about with the colder temperatures, so we try to get them the help they need and get them in a safe spot, so that we don't fine them the next morning after something very bad has happened to them."

And with Rapid City having a high homeless population, it's important for the "Cold Patrol" to help address some of the homeless issues we see in our community.

Baxter says, "It's not that these people who are out on our streets are bad people by any means. Unfortunately, a lot of them have substance abuse issues, have mental health issues, and they don't have the access to the resources."

That's why officers are doing their best to make sure everyone has a warm place to stay and if they don't, they try to find them one.