A Wyoming police department’s Facebook post urging people to stop giving panhandlers money and contribute to charity instead caused a flurry of reactions across social media.
The Cheyenne Police Department posted a photo with money taken from a panhandler Sunday afternoon following the panhandler’s arrest for alleged public intoxication, WGHP reported.
“We want to illustrate that there are better ways to help the transient population than to give them money for panhandling,” the department’s Facebook post reads. “This person collected $234.94 in just a few hours of asking for money. Rather than feeding someone’s alcohol addiction, you can donate directly to local charities such as the Comea Shelter where your money will assist the homeless in a much more effective way.”
The post, which got more than 38,000 shares and 28,000 reactions, attracted comments from people who thought the police overstepped their authority.
“Just when I think this place can’t get any more backward. I will give MY money to whoever I please. You’re seriously telling us, like we’re children, how we should treat people?” one woman wrote.
“Public shaming, nice. Cheyenne Police Department should be ashamed of themselves,” another woman said. “What they do with their money is none of your business and Addiction isn’t a punchline in a Facebook post. Awful.”
The post also drew comments from people supporting the police department’s actions.
“It’s funny, everyone wants to attack the pd for trying to raise awareness for severe alcoholism, and the publics accidental enabling. Everyone freaks out thinking they stole his money,” another commenter wrote.
The Cheyenne Police Department wrote a follow up to their original post Tuesday, clarifying that they did not take the panhandler’s money and instead “held it for safekeeping.”
Other police departments have made similar announcements in recent months, warning that giving money to panhandlers could enable certain destructive behaviors.
In May, Wichita’s police department started a campaign encouraging people to give panhandlers “resources” to find help instead of money.