The officers have been identified as Preston McGraw and Alexandre Olivier, who are both recent graduates of the Mobile Police Academy.
Two police officers from Mobile, Alabama have stirred a storm online after an image of them went viral over the holiday period. In the picture, it seems like the two officers are ridiculing the homeless community. The post showed the two cops holding up what apparently looks like a "quilt" of carboard signs which were said to be confiscated from homeless people in the city. The caption on the post read: “Wanna wish everybody in the 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain. Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt. Sincerely Panhandler patrol.”
The officers have been identified as Preston McGraw and Alexandre Olivier, both recent graduates of the Mobile Police Academy. McGraw graduated in February of 2018 while Olivier got through more recently in January of 2019. Two other people were also tagged int he image but it wasn't clear who they were, but the photo appears to have been taken inside a Mobile Police Department office.
Let’s hope they never have to experience having nothing but that to keep them warm...— LorraineMcc (@Lorrainemccror1) December 30, 2019
They should do 100 hours in soup kitchen
Lawrence Battiste, chief of police for Mobile, has been a long-time advocate for the homeless community in his city. He extended his apologies on behalf of the two officers and the department for the post, reports AL.com.
“As a police department entrusted with serving and protecting our community, we offer our sincerest apology for the insensitive gesture of a Facebook post by two of our officers where they are holding up a homeless “quilt” made of panhandling signs," said Chief Battiste. "Although we do not condone panhandling and must enforce the city ordinances that limit panhandling, it is never our intent or desire as a police department to make light of those who find themselves in a homeless state. Rather, our position has always been to partner with community service providers to help us help those faced with homelessness with hope to improve their quality of life.”
A "homeless quilt" made by the "panhandler patrol." The lack of empathy and care is stunning and disgusting. https://t.co/YBBeUwC20C— Aaron Cynic (@aaroncynic) December 30, 2019
The outlet also sent emails to every member of the city council for comments on the issue, but haven't received a response yet. After the image was first posted online, it quickly went viral, gathering more than 10,000 shares and over 3,000 comments. Several of the commenters aid that the image was in extremely poor taste, and truly abysmal to witness especially during the holiday season.
This shows a complete lack of empathy which iny opinion does not make for a good officer.— JustHave2Say (@SavvyMom428) December 31, 2019
It was back in 2010 when the city of Mobile first passed their panhandling law, which many deemed to be very controversial. Under this new rule, asking for money is allowed only outside of the downtown area referred to as the Visitors Domain. It was reported that the law was originally crafted to apply to a smaller area, which was usually filled with tourists and visitors. This was in order to comply with federal court decisions that have found these citywide bans on begging to be an unconstitutional violation of free speech.
Those who panhandle in the restricted area are charged with a fine of up to $500, community service, and/or up-to 6 months in jail, as determined by the municipal court.
Yes, you did. They can also serve prison time. Often private prisons will lobby state legislatures to criminalize the least little offense.— M$M = Killers (@LittleBirdSteph) December 31, 2019