Two police officers in Alabama taped together homeless people's signs seeking help, then posted a photo of what they called the "homeless quilt" online. "Wanna wish everybody in 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain," the post on a Mobile officer's personal Facebook page said. "Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt!" It was signed, "Sincerely, Panhandler patrol." The post is no longer available, reports BuzzFeed, which has the photo here. The messages on the confiscated signs include "Trying To Make It Anything Helps God Bless You" and "Hungry and Homeless," per NBC. There was a backlash. A screenshot posted on Twitter was reposted more than 1,000 times, and angry responses were left on the police department's Facebook page. "This is disgraceful!" one said. "No amount of toys for tots will make up for this," said another.
Mobile's police chief apologized on Facebook for the officers' "insensitive gesture" but didn't say whether they would be punished. "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," Lawrence Battiste said. One Facebook commenter said the officers seem to have free time that might be better spent serving meals to the homeless. A spokesman for the city said the two officers are recent police academy graduates. (Read more homelessness stories.)