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Delray Beach police deliver blankets, jackets to homeless sleeping out in cold

Posted at 12:00 AM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 06:46:35-05

The Alpha night shift briefing at the Delray Beach Police Department starts at 6:30 p.m.

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“If you guys run across any homeless people, anyone in need, just give us a call and we’ll come,” Sgt. Gary Ferreri said addressing five officers.

It ends with a check of their tasers, and their 12-hour shift begins. 

Ferreri, a 10-year veteran, with donated warm clothes and blankets, is taking them right to the people who need it during this rare Florida cold snap.

“They’ll be useful for the next few nights,” Delray Beach Vice Mayor Jim Chard says to Ferreri at Chard’s house, who is donating some clothes.

“If we don’t find anybody, we’ll drop in the (donation) boxes. Thank you, Jim.”

Nights like Wednesday night are typically slow.

“Just as the good people want to stay in, the bad people want to stay in as well,” Sgt. Ferreri said.

But for the homeless, the warming sun can’t rise soon enough. 

“You know, the same people that we’re going to be helping today are probably the same people that we arrested yesterday and we’ll be arresting tomorrow. But you put those differences aside and make sure their basic needs are attended to,” he said.

Sgt. Ferrari says the homeless stay in areas near the bustling Atlantic Avenue, so that’s where we look. 

First, Veterans Park. He walks with a few blankets tucked under his arm. Perhaps good news, the park is empty. 

Under the nearby drawbridge, no one either. 

“I got the guys looking,” he said as we drove east. 

Where Atlantic Avenue meets the Atlantic Ocean, we find three homeless men sitting on a patio near the beach. 

“How are we doing guys?” Ferreri says, addressing three homeless men. “What are you guys doing for the cold weather? It’s going to get down to like 40 degrees tonight, you know?”

The younger homeless man responds, “We got two blankets. We got some pizza, you know? He’s got blankets on him, you knows he’s an elder,” he says, pointing to the older man already wrapped in a white blanket.

“Have you guys tried going to a shelter?” Ferreri asks.

“We can’t. (The older homeless man) doesn’t want to go. Just gotta rough it out. You know?” 

“We got a couple extra blankets in case you need them,” Ferreri says handing them over.

“For what you did, thank you,” the homeless man says back with a handshake.

We head back to Ferreri’s patrol car.

“I am going to have a beat officer come by and talk to them and talk about the alternatives. Again, it is city property. It is closed after dark. I’m sure we can find some other alternative or some other option available to them to keep them warm,” he says.

“I mean, here you go. We drove a quarter mile and there’s homes that are $20-30 million to our left. And then a quarter mile up the street, you got people that have no home. It’s crazy the diversity.”

His shift will end at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, but he will start working again 12 hours later.  He’ll hand out the clothes as they are needed and then donate the rest.