Police in a small Louisiana city arrested a "homeless" man asking for money from strangers after he allegedly urinated in public — and what they found in his pockets resulted in them using his story to spread awareness.
"Transients, also known as beggars or homeless, are often a hot topic of debate for Slidell residents. There are people who feel these individuals all need to be arrested. Some feel they should offered help. Some feel we should just leave them alone," the Slidell Police Department wrote on Facebook May 22.
"Literally, everyday, someone either calls Slidell Police or sends us a message on Facebook asking us to do something about this 'problem.' Some people feel sorry for these individuals, other don’t. Granted, some have legitimate issues, and we do everything we can to offer them help, but those are far and few between," the department continued.
The post described a 59-year-old man named Franklin Jones who authorities said was arrested for public intoxication and urinating in public.
"Mr. Jones has been begging for money at the intersection of Gause and Interstate 10 for well over a year. Mr. Jones has been offered a job on multiple occasions, but chooses not to work because he makes a better living by begging people for money," the department wrote.
After his arrest, officers searched the man.
"Mr. Jones was subsequently arrested and found with over $800 cash in his pockets (For those of you wondering, Mr. Jones’ money was not seized. It is his to keep)," the department wrote.
"We continue to offer help, but when you can make $800 in less than a week by 'begging', some people say, 'Why get a real job?' We’ve found jobs for people. We’ve offered assistance by bringing some of these individuals to rehab facilities. Bottom line is, it’s up to the individual person if they want help or not. All we can do is guide them in the right direction. We can’t force people to do things," the department added.
Authorities said that it is perfectly legal for individuals to beg for money, which complicates the problem.
"Slidell Police does their best to address these issues by following the letter of the law and ensuring that no one’s rights are violated. There is no easy solution to this problem, and quite frankly, it is a much bigger and deeper issue than a strictly a police matter. We hope this sheds some light for our Slidell residents and hopefully answered any questions or concerns about this issue," the department concluded.
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