5 arrests in Putnam Co. Sheriff’s response to homelessness

Local News

PUTNAM CO., Tenn. (WKRN) — Putnam County Sheriff’s Office reports a growing number of individuals experiencing homelessness finding their way into the area. The Sheriff’s Office also reports a growing number of crimes related to the uptick.

Houston Hamblin, public information officer for PCSO, told News 2 five people have been arrested so far in Wednesday’s “Operation Rescue.”

Hamblin stated charges against the five range from possessing meth to manufacturing meth as well as probation violations.

“Operation Rescue” is Sheriff Eddie Farris’ response to homelessness in his county.

Sheriff Farris released a statement saying in part, “What’s happening is over time these individuals have accumulated and have created makeshift tents and various living situations on private property and places of business…

… and it’s unacceptable.”

He added his deputies have started giving out verbal warnings to trespassers, but if they don’t leave in a timely manner, then they will be arrested.

According to Hamblin, more than 20 business and property owners, who have been directly impacted by homeless drug users trespassing and living on their property, signed a waiver for criminal trespass.

The Sheriff’s Office has been working on different ways to not only address citizens’ concerns but also find ways to help those experiencing homelessness.

“We are blessed to live in a community that cares so much for one another and are always ready to help when called upon. There are numerous local religious and charity organizations that have and will continue to aid in our endeavors to help the homeless,” Sheriff Farris said.

Of the five who were charged Wednesday, three of them were not from Tennessee, according to Hamblin. And, four of them agreed to getting some help.

“However, despite all the opportunity, there remains some who refuse help from anyone and only continue harming themselves through the use of drugs and alcoholism, which further endangers residents, business owners, and visitors to Putnam County,” the sheriff continued, “As your Sheriff, I have worked and will continue to work to make sure our community remains a safe place to live.”

For those that are homeless and really need help and are seeking help, the PCSO is working with several
churches, charity organizations, and volunteers to connect them with resources.

Hamblin noted, Life Church in Cookeville and Luke Eldridge with Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency have been key in helping to assist and identify housing and resources for individuals experiencing homelessness.

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PCSO is currently working to get a more accurate headcount of the number of homeless in the county.

Hamblin added, “Operation Rescue” will be an ongoing process and more information will be provided in the days ahead.

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