Yahoo!News reports that police officers in Kissimmee, Florida are disguising themselves as bums homeless individuals in a new revenue generation scheme public safety campaign:

Homeless advocates are outraged by an operation where undercover police officers dressed as vagrants, observed drivers running red lights or committing other traffic violations, then radioed ahead to other officers who stopped those cars and wrote tickets.

“Operation Vagrant,” a sting operation involving the Florida Highway Patrol, Kissimmee police and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, nabbed 171 drivers — most of whom ran red lights, a violation that carries an $83 fine.

Undercover deputies stood along streets and gave the indication they were vagrants by pushing shopping carts and wearing fake teeth and tattered clothing. They also carried small cardboard signs, which read, “Sheriff’s traffic sting in progress. Buckle up.”

While I could understand outrage over this diversion of police resources from, say, crime fighting, the uproar over disrespecting the homeless baffles me. One would think that the priority of “homeless advocates” would be, oh, getting them, um, homes.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Instead of complaining about the cops, perhaps the homeless advocates could start introducing the “mental health” medication that many homeless go without in the meals they give away in their soup kitchens. Just call it “Vitamin Crazy” or something on the ingredients list.

  2. Brian says:

    As I blogged:

    YOU WILL, FROM TIME TO TIME, READ A STORY… about punks beating up or killing a bum (aka “a homeless guy”) for kicks. (Here’s just one example of a homicide.) So you’d think that police officers masquerading as bums to catch traffic violators—which might have a deterrent effect on such crimes—would be welcomed by “advocates for the homeless.” You would, of course, be wrong.