When people complain about the homeless, the homeless often wind up under arrest. Then right back on the streets. It ties up police and the courts, and doesn't really help much. There's a new effort to help: it starts on the streets...and in homeless camps.
Now police are going off the streets and into the woods to be proactive instead of reactive.
Just over the railroad tracks, over a rickety bridge and through the woods, is a place that Nicholas Chandler calls home. "I come here because nobody's back here," he says. "They're afraid to come back here." Chandler has called Savannah's woods home for nearly a year.
That's why SPD's new Homeless Task Force is trudging through the woods. At each campsite police find in the woods, officers fill out a worksheet with each homeless person. They ask for names, next of kin and any medical problems, along with information on where the person is staying and what he or she needs. That information is put in a database.
"They're doing their job. They're out trying to get bad guys. I ain't doing nothing wrong so I'm not worried about it," says Chandler.
But sometimes on these hikes police find wanted felons. Other times they find more temporary camps with people who want to go back to the regular world, and just need help.