Slidell, Louisiana, police attempted to tackle the issue of homelessness last week after they arrested a man who’d been begging for over a year at the same intersection.
Authorities noted that homelessness is a big issue in Slidell and that the department receives messages each day on Facebook about the problem. In an effort to address the complaints, the department released the story of 59-year-old Franklin Jones.
Jones had been begging for money at the intersection of Gause and Interstate 10 for more than a year, but because begging is legal, police could do nothing about it. Jones had reportedly been offered a job on several occasions, but chose not to work because he made more money begging in one day.
Last Tuesday, however, Jones got drunk and stumbled into the road. He stole a shopping basket and urinated in the street, where one mother and her child saw him. The woman immediately called police and Jones was arrested for public urination.
Inside Jones’ pocket, police found $800.
“There is no easy answer to this,” the Slidell Police Department wrote in a Facebook post. “We continue to offer help, but when you can make $800 in less than a week by ‘begging’, some people say, ‘Why get a real job?’ … Bottom line is, it’s up to the individual person if they want help or not.”
The post also noted the predicament that the police are in: they either ignore the problem and are lambasted for "not doing their job," or they respond to the complaints, and are accused of "harassing" the individuals and "wasting taxpayers dollars by putting them in jail for such a minor offense."
"No matter what action we take, some will agree and some will disagree," the post continues. "It is what it is.
" ... There is no easy solution to this problem, and quite frankly, it is a much bigger and deeper issue than a strictly a [sic] police matter," the post concludes. "We hope this sheds some light for our Slidell residents and hopefully answered any questions or concerns about this issue."
Photo Credit: ABC News