VENTURA, Calif. - A video posted by the Ventura Police Department about the best ways to help the homeless is circulating online and it’s causing some controversy.
An officer is seen standing on the side of the road, holding cardboard signs. The signs reveal a message encouraging people to donate to local shelters, instead of panhandlers.
It’s a sensitive issue after a homeless man was arrested for stabbing 35-year-old Anthony Mele to death at The Aloha Steakhouse at the Ventura Promenade in April.
NewsChannel 3 showed the video to people at the Promenade. One woman named Marilyn, says she can see how the cardboard signs the officer is holding can be demeaning toward the homeless.
“It’s unfortunate that it took that incident to make the police aware of the homeless people,” said Marilyn.
Others, like Tim Chambers praise Ventura PD for coming up with solutions to help the homeless.
“It’s not demeaning to me,” said Chambers. “I think its good. I know people who really don’t want to come down here because they are afraid of the homeless people.”
Commander Tom Higgins says reaction from the video has been immense.
“The idea behind the video was not necessarily saying don’t give to the homeless, but there are charities geared toward homeless people so that is what we recommend that people give money to rather than people out panhandling on the street,” said Commander Higgins.
Many took their comments to Facebook. Some saying in part, “This video only enforces the negative stereotype that anyone down on their luck is a dirty addict.”
Others say, “Good! Panhandling is out of control.”
The Ventura Police Department posted complete list on their Facebook page of the best organizations to donate to and help the homeless including:
- Turning Point Foundation 805-652-0596
- Project Understanding 805-652-1326
- Salvation Army 805-648-5032
- Society of Saint Vincent de Paul 805-487-1558
- Homeless Assistance Hotline 805-639-3600
Resources for those in need in West Ventura County can be found by clicking here.