Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner, right, leads a group wanting to donate clothing past a memorial for a woman who died in a tent fire in a wooded area behind the Savannah College of Art and Design's Boundary Village in Savannah, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
SAVANNAH — Officer Tom Gentner works a police beat few Savannah, Ga., residents ever see, patrolling 20 rustic camps populated by hundreds of homeless people tucked away in the woods and under highway overpasses.
Savannah-Chat-ham County police assigned Gentner as the department’s homeless liaison last year. He gets no partner and no extra budget. Just a patrol car he drives down dirt roads to camps. He keeps a milk crate in the trunk containing files he’s compiled on many of the 360 homeless residents.
“He keeps the riffraff out of here,” said Larry Lewis, who lives at one of the camps.
When a couple wanted for jumping bail in Florida moved into one of the camps, residents tipped off Gentner.
Besides investigating crimes, he also mediates disputes between camp residents and helps charities organize food and blanket donations.