Police officer partrols, keeps order in Savannah homeless camps

Police officer partrols, keeps order in Savannah homeless camps

May 5th, 2014 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

Savannah Metro Police Department Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner, right, gathers contact information from a young couple living under the ramps of the Truman Parkway in Savannah, Ga. Since September 2013 the Savannah police department gave Gentner the task of keeping track of over three hundred homeless people living near the historic downtown area. The couple later found temporary housing with the help of Gentner. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Tom Gentner stands in the entrance to a tent during a search for a suspected felon in the tent camp. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Tom Gentner stands in the entrance to a...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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)

Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner, right, leads a...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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.


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