The photo was originally posted on the Facebook page of one of the officers, where it was quickly reposted by other users.
“Wanna wish everybody in 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain. Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt! Sincerely, Panhandler patrol,” a caption under the photo read.
A screenshot of the Facebook post was shared thousands of times across social media, with many of the comments condoning the officer’s actions.
The taped together cardboard signs have several different messages written on them including: “Hungry and Homeless,” “Homeless Need Help Thank you + God Bless”
“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,” Police Chief Lawrence Battiste wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
In 2010, Mobile passed a panhandling law that states panhandling is only allowed outside of a popular downtown area. Violators can be fined, or forced to serve community service or even jail time.
“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. “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.”