Police, firefighters & Watertown’s temporary homeless shelter

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:53 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The population at the temporary shelter for homeless and displaced people in Watertown has gone from 12 to 30 in less than two weeks.

Before the shelter opened at the former DealMaker body shop off Main Avenue, some of the people were living under the J.B. Wise Pavilion a few blocks away.

“They are getting essentially food, shelter, and facilities. Bathroom facilities, things that we take for granted in a normal course of a day,” said Jefferson County Legislator Scott Gray.

With the door wide open, Gray says the shelter has become a community resource. Some are hearing about it by word of mouth. He says about half a dozen have been referred or brought to the shelter by local law enforcement.

“The person they brought there the other night, I will tell you, I just do what I normally do and I ask, ‘Where did you come from? What’s the circumstances here?’ and I was told the person has been living in a dumpster for three days,” said Gray.

Since the shelter opened, the Watertown Police Department has responded to two dozen calls there. A majority of them are property checks, but others are nuisance calls, thefts, one arrest, and one overdose.

Watertown Police was also dispatched for an alarm call, according to the police blotter. Sources believe there was drug-making going on and all the paraphernalia was removed by police.

The Watertown Fire Department responded to a sick call.

“That is critically important that the police are involved. They’re there through every shift now. There are officers that walk through every shift,” said Gray.

Gray says he has given Police Chief Charles Donoghue a walk-through of the temporary shelter.

Police officials had no comment about the shelter’s effect on the department.