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Step away fromt he donuts ma'am
by Mark Fisher on 6/2/2003 (0)

Acctual image of a police officer pretending to be a bum.
Undercover officers dressed in tattered clothing have been making busts,as well as some pocket change, in this central Florida town’s latest police sting.

The low-life lawmen have been sitting at major intersections watching for traffic light violations, speeders and safety-belt violations. 171 summonses have been issued thus far.

Drivers approaching intersections see what appears to be a bunch of bums, complete with skanky clothes, greasy faces and cardboard signs. Some officers have constructed temporary homes out of refrigerator boxes.

“I was pulling up to the light,” said one driver, “and this bum comes waddling over. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, Christ, here it comes!’ He’s slobbering all over the windshield, wiping it down with an oily rag, and he says, ‘Got any spare coffee, buddy?’ Then I noticed another one of them with a shopping cart jammed full of donuts! I threw some change at him and ran the light. I mean, he was scary!”

One block later the motorist was flagged down by a waiting motorcycle cop, who issued a violation for failure to stop at red light.

The Homeless Services Network of Central Florida is objecting to the police tactics, saying it is offensive to the area’s homeless population.

“These cops are workin’ my corner!” said one tramp. They’re all radio controlled, got nice Westinghouse single-level housing units, and get to work in shifts. I could make big money, too, if I had their equipment. They’re scarin’ off the drivers, and givin’ us bad names.”

With news of the police sting spreading, some displaced drifters have been spending their days at less visible intersections, hoping to cash in.

Weird Will, a career vagrant, described the ploy. “I walk up to a car, flash a crushed soda can at the driver and yell “POLICE – FREEZE!” The driver is usually overcome with fear and offensive odor, and quite cooperative. I tell them to empty all the beer and liquor out of the car. Most times they don’t have any, but every now and then you hit the big score. Some college students turned over a case of Ballentine’s yesterday”

Sheriff’s bureau officials said, “We are taking a close look at this operation. It’s becoming confusing for everyone.”

Homeless institutions throughout the area demanded the police cease the police-bum operation immediately, and turn over all uneaten donuts to various shelters.

“We’re considering shutting the sting down,” said a police captain. “But I’m afraid that, as of this afternoon, there were only two uneaten donuts. We don’t expect them to last.” sr


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