Photos: Patrolling the homeless camp beat

Officer Tom Gentner works a beat few ever see — patrolling 20 rustic camps populated by hundreds of homeless people


Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. — 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.

Note: Hit 'I' to view slide captions within slideshow. 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press

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