The chief of police in Mobile, Alabama, has apologized after a Facebook post by an officer showing them displaying a "quilt" made out of confiscated cardboard panhandling signs went viral, according to WKRG-TV.
The photo showing two officers posing in uniform with the quilt was posted by one of them with the caption: "Wanna wish everybody in 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain. Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt! Sincerely, Panhandler patrol."
The photo caused outrage from observers who view it as mocking and showing a lack of compassion for homeless people. over the past year, Mobile police have taken steps to more firmly eliminate panhandling in the city.
Chief Lawrence Batiste apologized, and said the department will review what discipline the officers may face.
"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. 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."
The photo was posted by Preston McGraw, and the other officer featured is Alexandre Olivier. McGraw graduated from the Mobile Police Academy in February 2018, and Olivier in January 2019.
The image has been shared more than 10,000 times and has over 3,000 comments, according to AL.com.
Panhandling is only allowed in Mobile in certain parts of the city. It is not allowed in the popular Visitors Domain area of downtown. Federal court rulings prohibit full citywide bans on panhandling.