Local law enforcement agencies launch program to bus vagrants out of town

The Panama City Police Department along with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office have launched a new program that will have an impact on the homeless issue. They’re handing out tickets…Bus tickets.

The two agencies launched “The Safe Streets” project Wednesday. They gave eleven homeless people Greyhound bus tickets in exchange for their promise to permanently re-locate closer to their families or job opportunities.

Safe Streets’ project officially kicked off Wednesday morning. Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen was at the Panama City Rescue Mission preparing eleven homeless people to head back to their homes. The Sheriff’s Office and Panama City Police are using charity funds to buy the bus tickets that will hopefully lead to better lives for those that accept the offer.

“Before we put anyone on a bus, we make sure they have no pending litigation, make sure it’s not a waste of funds or efforts to bring them back to be prosecuted” says Panama City Police Sgt. Christopher Edmundson.

The first round of one-way Greyhound bus tickets cost about $900 dollars.

These people are going to be a victim of a crime or be in jail and that is not accomplishing anything” says Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen.

But they hope this new project will, one person at a time.

“They have some place to go, they may have family that may be there to support them, may have a job waiting for them. There’s a more viable future for them at the other end of the bus ticket” says Panama City Police Sgt. Jeff Becker.

Greyhound is also offering assistance by discounting the tickets.

Authorities say the project was sort of launched by accident, just trying to give a few unfortunate people a hand up. By law, 15% of forfeited assets can be spent on a charitable cause.

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Law_Enforcement_Helping_Homeless_Hit_the_Road_130888118.html

This is a great program implemented by our police and sheriff departments. The program addresses the vagrant problem in a way that makes sense allowing those who have come to Panama City because of the draw of the rescue mission, to go back home with their families and address their problems head on. Panama city cannot continue to be the landing area for every vagrant in the southeast. The community is willing and able to help those locals who are truly in need and are just needing a helping hand.  Attempting to cure the vagrant problem in every city in the southeast as the rescue seems to be currently trying to do does nothing but create the nuisance that it has and quite frankly creates an atmosphere where those who could benefit form a program are less likely to successfully make the transition back to being contributing members of society. Remember when you were a kid and your mother told you “not to hang out with those kids, they are a bad influence”?  This is the dynamic of the rescue mission..”birds of a feather flock together”

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