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Lifesavers for cold nights ahead

TPD gives blankets to homeless
Posted at 5:58 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 19:58:44-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tucson’s weather can change suddenly this time of year and leave homeless people in danger. KGUN9’s Two America’s initiative is meant to introduce you to parallel lives you might never experience.

While a lot of people are preparing for a comfortable holiday ahead, there are other people for whom life is a matter of simple survival. Tucson Police are taking steps to help keep them safe and warm.

The blankets are made of old scraps. They may not be fashionable but they are warm.

Sergeant Jack Julsing leads the Homeless Outreach Team for Tucson Police. Of the blankers he says, “And if it's the difference between life and death, it makes a difference. I can personally tell you that at least one dozen homeless individuals in my career I found frozen to death.”

Now that the days can swing from mild in the daytime to frigid at night, officers are bringing blankets to homeless people living outdoors.

Sergeant Julsing says, “Individuals will fall asleep out here. While they're sleeping the temperature is going to fluctuate down about 20 or 30 degrees. And if you're living outside and the wind starts blowing, or it starts to rain, I mean you can really get cold very, very quickly. And I think people do underestimate that.”

Officers are bringing the blankets to homeless camps. Other blankets will go to police substations so regular patrol officers can give them to anyone they encounter who needs a way to stay warm.

“I know it sounds dramatic, but there we do see these individuals freezing to death every year.”

Sergeant Julsing says officers hand out maybe as many as five hundred blankets from Thanksgiving through March, knowing a simple square of cloth could save a life.