Georgia officer patrols homeless camps
May 02, 2014 07:00 AM | 670 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 photo, Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner climbs over highway railing after visiting a camp underneath while on his daily rounds to 20 homeless camps surrounding the Historic District in Savannah, Ga. The homeless in Savannah live under highway bridges, ramps, and the urban forest surrounding downtown. Part of Gentner's job is to document newcomers and check criminal activity. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
In this Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 photo, Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner climbs over highway railing after visiting a camp underneath while on his daily rounds to 20 homeless camps surrounding the Historic District in Savannah, Ga. The homeless in Savannah live under highway bridges, ramps, and the urban forest surrounding downtown. Part of Gentner's job is to document newcomers and check criminal activity. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
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In this Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 photo, 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 Camp 2 in a wooded area behind the Savannah College of Art and Design's Boundary Village in Savannah, Ga. The tent ignited from the sparks of a nearby campfire. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
In this Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 photo, 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 Camp 2 in a wooded area behind the Savannah College of Art and Design's Boundary Village in Savannah, Ga. The tent ignited from the sparks of a nearby campfire. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
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In this Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 photo, Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner stands on the door frame of his police cruiser to check the depth of floodwaters blocking his access to one of the city's 20 homeless camps in Savannah, Ga. Several of the camps are in remote sections of town surrounding the historic district. After being awarded by the department for his work with the homeless, he will be assigned a new SUV for his job. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
In this Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 photo, Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner stands on the door frame of his police cruiser to check the depth of floodwaters blocking his access to one of the city's 20 homeless camps in Savannah, Ga. Several of the camps are in remote sections of town surrounding the historic district. After being awarded by the department for his work with the homeless, he will be assigned a new SUV for his job. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
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In this Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 photo, Savannah's Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner's is reflected in the shaving mirror of a homeless man at Camp 7 in Savannah, Ga. Residents call the area the "Bamboo Forest" because of the acres of the dense plants which conceal their community of fenced off encampments. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
In this Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 photo, Savannah's Homeless Liaison Officer Tom Gentner's is reflected in the shaving mirror of a homeless man at Camp 7 in Savannah, Ga. Residents call the area the "Bamboo Forest" because of the acres of the dense plants which conceal their community of fenced off encampments. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Officer Tom Gentner works a police beat few Savannah residents ever see, patrolling 20 rustic camps populated by hundreds of homeless people tucked away in the woods and under highway overpasses.

Savannah-Chatham County police assigned Gentner as the department's homeless liason last year. He gets no partner and no extra budget. Just a patrol car he drives down dirt roads to camps with names like Bamboo Forest and Hob-Knob Hill. 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 Savannah camps, residents tipped off Gentner. Besides investigating crimes, he also mediates disputes between camp residents and helps charities organize food and blanket donations.

The following images show Gentner on the job working the homeless beat.



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