Police Give Bus Tickets Home

Panama City – Two months ago we were the first to tell you about operation safe streets, a program designed to send willing homeless people back to their hometowns. It’s part of the on-going effort to reduce the homeless and vagrancy problem in downtown Panama City.

“Operation Safe Streets” provides one way, non-refundable bus tickets to homeless people who meet specific qualifications. 44 people have taken advantage of the offer so far. A mother and her teenage son will be numbers 45 and 46.

Dafney Harrison and her 14 year old son Drake moved to Panama City in July with her boyfriend. Harrison cleaned local condos until she split from the boyfriend, leaving her and Drake homeless. they’ve been staying at the Panama City Rescue Mission.

“It’s really really tough. Not knowing anybody, it’s scary being out on the streets with a kid especially. It would be okay if it was just me, but with my kid it makes it bad,” said Harrison.

Harrison learned about “Operation Safe Streets” at the mission. Under the program, Panama City police and Bay County Sheriff’s officials buy one way bus tickets for homeless people, as long as they have family or a business to sponsor them.

“We make sure they have no pending litigation here in the county, no warrants, not a sexual offender or predator, not on probation, there is nothing that is going to bring them back to the county itself,” said Sgt. Christopher Edmundson.

Harrison contacted officers at the downtown Panama City police sub-station, and qualified for the program. Now she and Drake are going home to Indiana.

“I’m excited. I’m really happy,” said Drake Harrison.

“I don’t know where I would go or what I would do my mom doesn’t have the money to get us, so you know without this I don’t know what I would do,” said Harrison.

Dafney and Drake will leave on a Greyhound bus Friday morning. They’re fortunate. 16 people, who applied for “Operation Safe Streets” did not qualify and were turned away.

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Police_Give_Bus_Tickets_Home_135705473.html

This is our local government and police officials being smart. As movethemission has noted in several of our postings, the percentage of the general public rallies behind the rescue mission and the local churches that are doing feeding sessions in public parks with the theme of we need to “help the homeless”. They do this in a way that lumps together a whole variety of people who have  totally different personal situations. The woman in this article does not need to be in a facility of institutionalized homeless surrounded by drunkards and vagrants. This woman and her child just want to go home to their family. With this program, it has moved two more people back to a situation where they can become contributing members of society and two less people that are counted in our overwhelming numbers of area homeless. Imagine the impact the rescue mission would have on the numbers of “homeless” that include, vagrants, panhandlers, drunkards, druggies, sex offenders and bums if they took the attitude of lowering the number of homeless by sending those home who just need a way home, working with organizations that could offer job training giving people new ways of helping themselves and developing a top notch drug and alcohol rehab program getting these people in a rural farm setting away from the influences readily available alcohol and other transients and vagrants. Unfortunately for our community, the rescue mission thrives on enhancing the number of people that go in their facility. The focus is not on getting people back out, it is on “how many we have fed today”. The numbers get larger and larger because the rescue mission has become known all over the southeast as the dumping ground for vagrants. It is time to reverse those numbers. 

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