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Police department posts controversial photo about giving money to panhandlers

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A police department in Wyoming is asking people to stop giving money to panhandlers and instead give to local charities.

The Cheyenne Police Department took to Facebook Sunday afternoon after they arrested an intoxicated panhandler they frequently deal with.

The post read, in part, “We want to illustrate that there are better ways to help the transient population than to give them money for panhandling. 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 quickly went viral with more than 30,000 shares and 24,000 likes and caused a stir with the thousands who commented on it.

One woman wrote, “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?”

Another woman said, “Public shaming, nice. Cheyenne Police Department should be ashamed of themselves. What they do with their money is none of your business and Addiction isn’t a punchline in a Facebook post. Awful.”

But many other comments were in support of the police department, including one that read, “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.”

On Tuesday, Cheyenne police posted an update to their previous post, saying the money was not taken from the panhandler but being “held for safekeeping.”