51 division

Toronto police gave homeless man a hockey card and people aren't happy

Toronto police's 51 Division shared a photo to its social media accounts last week that is causing quite the stir, and not getting quite the response officers were hoping for.

The force shared on Twitter what they thought was a heartwarming story about an interaction between its Community Officers and one unhoused resident, who used to be a professional hockey player.

"Our Yonge St Neighbourhood Community Officers found a homeless man who was a former hockey player," tweeted the division, which services Moss Park, the Church-Yonge Corridor, and Regent Park, among other neighbourhoods.

"They located his hockey card online, purchased it, put it in a protective case & gave it to him today. (Photo cropped for privacy) #EveryoneIsSomeone #WeAreInThisTogether."

Though some found the gesture to be extremely thoughtful, others found it to be a little out of touch, saying that there are surely other things that a homeless citizen could use that would be more helpful than a hockey card.

Some also thought the deed, presumably done with the intention of forging and strengthening relationships between law enforcement and vulnerable communities, also served to remind the individual of their former glory days — but not in a good way.

The hundreds of replies to the post from Dec. 10 have very mixed feedback, with users arguing amongst themselves about how they would have personally received the act.

Some have commended the cops on such initiative in their ongoing and difficult work, while others have chided the force for what they personally perceived as insensitivity or misplaced efforts.

And while the photo was cropped to protect the identity of the individual, many seemed to think that showing his face could have helped direct help from the public his way.

"Don’t even know the poor guy’s identity so social media could provide the mutual aid the police failed to provide," one user wrote.

"First of all the police would have provided him or anyone else with services if they required it. Second the police cannot release his ID because of privacy issues," replied another.

It's evident that people are still, as always, extremely divided about their thoughts on police and also the city's treatment of those experiencing homelessness, especially with all of the tension surrounding the recent tent encampment clearings.

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