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Madison officers offer resources for those looking to escape the cold

MADISON (WKOW) — With Madison’s cold days turning into colder nights, the city is taking steps to make sure people have places to escape the cold, as well as a way to get there.

Robert Beslic relies on Madison Metro buses. He said he’s taken steps to minimize the time he has to wait outside and nearby businesses have opened their doors to him.

“I think Madison takes care of people,” he said.

That’s something State Street Neighborhood Officer Kraig Kalka has taken to heart as temperatures hit dangerous lows.

“We have hand warmers, extra socks,” he listed leafing through the department’s donations. “There’s some jackets.”

First Methodist and Friends of the State Street Family donated the supplies and Kalka said his patrol officers make sure they’re put to use.

“Anytime that we encounter somebody who needs something to warm up or is struggling a little bit our officers know where this stuff is,” he said.

Kalka said that’s often some of Madison’s most vulnerable, the homeless, or families with nowhere to go during the day. He said outreach has always been a part of his job, but in this time of year, it’s far more urgent.

“We kind of go from you know the role of when it’s nicer out and warmer out we can be a little more proactive and when it’s colder out, we are really focused on the safety aspect of things,” he said.

With concerns of frostbite, hypothermia and other harms associated with exposure, Kalka said his officers offer advice alongside their winter supplies. He said they’re always willing to give rides to the city’s shelters, which are open for anyone in need, and they’re willing to connect anyone who needs it with resources to find housing.

“The first and foremost thing is we want to make sure that people are safe and out of the elements,” he said.

As for those like Beslic in need of temporary refuge, Madison Metro is offering warming buses at its four transfer stations around the city for the weekend.

Metro said it may continue this throughout next week if buses are available.

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Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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