MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KMSP) - One Minneapolis Police Officer is trying a new approach when facing the growing homeless population in the Twin Cities.
Merging his ministry and detective backgrounds, the longtime sergeant is known on the streets for always lending a hand and a shoulder to cry on.
Sergeant Grant Snyder is the real deal. The homeless people he interacts with on a daily basis across the city do not see him as a police officer, but as their friend.
There's something about Sergeant Grant Snyder that instantly connects him with just about anybody on the street.
“You alright, is there anything you need?” he asked while on patrol. “I see you have, you got on some comfortable shoes there. You good on everything else?”
Maybe it's his friendly personality, or how he always follows through on people's needs.
Whatever it is, Snyder is out every day checking up on people who are homeless, mentally ill or just needing someone to talk to.
“It’s not just me that he’s helping out here, he helps everybody in the whole neighborhood and there ain’t too many officers who do that—he’s special to me—he’s a special guy,” said a homeless man named Michael.
Snyder is the only Minneapolis Police Officer assigned full time to this new initiative to create alternatives to arresting and prosecuting people experiencing homelessness.
Chief Medaria Arradondo along with Mayor Jacob Frey were both instrumental in getting this new program up and running.
They say tent camps in Minneapolis are growing and it's imperative to get these folks help.
“It is a first. It's a culture shift for our department, but it's the right one,” said Arradondo.
But people like Michael don't view Sergeant Snyder as a police officer who comes over to bother him, they view him as a friend and even a family member. He’s someone they can always count on.
“I hope he stays in my corner because I will definitely stay in his corner," Michael said.
"Well, I’m in his corner permanently now he’s not going to get rid of me," Snyder replied.
Both Arradondo and Snyder hope to add more officers to Snyder's existing efforts.