The police department in Mobile, Alabama apologized Monday for the “insensitive gesture” carried out by two of its officers who posed for a holiday photo next to a makeshift “homeless quilt.”
The department was reacting to a since-deleted, but viral Facebook post by the officers, showing them grinning alongside the cardboard display replete with phrases used by panhandlers.
“Wanna wish everybody in 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain,” the post was captioned. “Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt.”
The offering was not taken lightly across social media, prompting the department’s captain to issue a “sincerest apology,” on behalf of the department.
“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,” said Chief of Police Lawrence Battiste.
“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 statement continued.
Some Facebook users said an apology is not enough.
“The Officers need to be fired and from there the entire Police Department needs to attend a sensitivity training program immediately! This is disgraceful!” wrote one user.
Another person commented: “As a past citizen of Mobile County, I’m extremely disgusted that this occurred. An apology from those specific officers and ethics classes are needed.”