Facebook users shame Dallas cops over social media post branding panhandlers as violent criminals
Dallas police have been cracking down on panhandlers — but Facebook users smacked down their social media scaremongering attempt.
Officers have arrested more than 100 people on class C misdemeanor charges so far this month in a city-wide crackdown on aggressive panhandling, reported the Dallas Morning News.
But Facebook users strongly objected when the police department got more aggressive in their attacks by suggesting panhandlers posed a carjacking risk.
“We recognize that the great citizens of Dallas care about those who are in need of assistance, but would you willingly invite a VIOLENT convicted felon into your vehicle??” police posted Friday on the department’s Facebook page.
Police reported that a panhandler arrested Feb. 4 had previous convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and felony theft among the 120 citations and 40 arrests he’d accumulated as an adult.
The department suggested that this panhandler and others might attempt to violently steal drivers’ cars when they stopped to give money.
“NOT ALL of those who panhandle will be convicted felons or violent offenders, but the risk is very real when you open your window and your wallet that you will encounter an individual with a dangerous criminal history,” police said.
Officers warned drivers not to roll down their windows, keep their doors locked and call 911 to report panhandling.
Many Facebook users congratulated officers for the arrests — but others shamed the department for trying to scare motorists.
“Yikes! And I’m the one who always has a glovebox full of dollar bills to give the stoplight ‘beggars’ who look really needy,” posted Jay Dee. “But what IF they ARE really needy? How can we turn our backs on people who have nothing when we have, comparatively, so much?”
Other users called on police to help the needy instead of branding them as criminals.
“Many felons can’t get jobs that can sustain a life for themselves let alone a family,” posted Opal Kathleen Roberts. “Why not focus on why panhandlers are there, and see about showing them to a place for help. Heaven forbid DPD become part of the front line in Helping get the homeless, the needy even the mentally ill, and yes felons that may be doing the only thing they can because they cant get a job, the help they need to become productive members of society?”
“Will Dallas begin encouraging its citizens to donate to homeless shelters and other non-profits to help these people?” posted Ashley Frank Klesmit. “Many of them only survive off of the money they’ve begged for.”