CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Cheyenne Police Department provided an object lesson. It is something known to most cops across America. But now more citizens are aware after their Facebook post went viral. As a result, it was shared more than 46,000 times and contained about 8,000 comments. Consequently, the commentary was both positive and negative.
The post shows a stack of money and a sign that says “Broke … Need Help … God Bless.” The message from the police department along with the image says the cash belongs to a transient man who was arrested for public intoxication. He had collected nearly $234 in a few hours.
Hence, those who donated should have given the money to a charity, rather than “feeding someone’s alcohol addiction,” it said.
Cheyenne Police Department spokesman, Kevin Malatesta, told WTSP that in retrospect more detail should have been included in the post. Therefore, two days later, the department followed up with more information. He said the police were not seizing the homeless man’s money, they simply demonstrated how much he made. Furthermore, they assumed the money would further enable his alcohol addiction since they are familiar with him.
In addition to public intoxication, the man also had been arrested for public urination, refusing to obey commands and having an open container.
“We see this particular individual quite a bit,” Malatesta told KUSA. “It’s somebody we deal with on, I’d say, almost a daily basis. Almost every contact we make, he’s intoxicated. So that’s where that’s coming from.”
Most of all, the point of the first post was public education regarding the city’s transient population and police efforts to help.
“If people are enabling it just by giving them money and we see them being arrested for public intoxication or similar offenses, repeating that cycle, that’s exactly what it is.”
They were surprised by the enormous response.
“What we were anticipating was really just wanting to get the message out about local charities and donating to local charities.”
(Photo: Cheyenne Police Department Facebook)