The Mobile Police Department in Alabama apologized after two of its officers were seen in a Facebook post posing for a photo next to a "homeless quilt" made from cardboard panhandling signs.
The photo was captioned: "Wanna wish everybody in 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain. Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt! Sincerely, Panhandler patrol."
In the image, the two officers are holding up cardboard boxes taped together with messages scrawled on them. "Trying To Make It Anything Helps God Bless You," one message reads. Another says: "Hungry and Homeless."
It appears that the photo originally was posted on the Facebook page of one of the officers and then reposted by other Facebook users.
Police Chief Lawrence Battiste apologized, calling the photo an "insensitive gesture."
"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," Battiste said in a Facebook post on Monday. "Rather, our position has always been to partner with community service providers to help those faced with homelessness with hope to improve their quality of life."
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A police spokesperson for the said the two officers in the photo were recent graduates of the police academy.