Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cops Help Homeless to Find Shelter in Bitter Cold

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cops Help Homeless to Find Shelter in Bitter Cold

Article excerpt

Cities with homeless populations are scrambling to keep them safe in dangerous weather this week.

In Clifton, where an unidentified homeless man was found dead last Friday, police are following the guidelines of the state's Code Blue initiative to find homeless people to persuade them to come out of the cold. Mayor James Anzaldi said police will look for homeless people in their usual haunts, like Dundee Preserve, the wooded areas behind the city's Pathmark, under the Piaget viaduct and spots along East Madison Avenue.

Bergen County is also taking a proactive approach. Police use three points of criteria to decide when to transport a homeless person to the shelter, said county Emergency Management Coordinator Lt. Matthew Tiedemann.

If the temperature goes below 32 degrees with precipitation, below 25 degrees without precipitation or if the National Weather Service calls for a windchill of zero for two hours or more, the law is in effect and homeless people are taken to safety, said Tiedemann.

The frigid temperatures played a part in the Clifton man's death, although the cause of death has not been determined, city police officials said.

Detective Lt. Robert Bracken said they are awaiting the medical examiner's determination. The white male, who was in his 50s, was discovered around 9 a.m. Friday in the Botany Village section by another homeless resident.

Bracken added that city police do their best to try to help the homeless, particularly when the cold is so extreme.

"One of the problems is that frequently they don't want help," Bracken said.

During the day, those seeking respite from the cold can use a warming station at the Senior Center on the grounds of the Municipal Complex, 900 Clifton Ave. After 4 p.m. city hall is open as a warming station.

For temporary needs, such as if a boiler bursts in an apartment house, the city can open the Senior Center or Woodrow Wilson Middle School as a shelter, Anzaldi said. …

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