Mosiah 4:14-16 reads:
14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
Fifteen is the last verse on children. Sixteen is the opening verse on beggars. I understand where this earnest brother is coming from, especially with him living in an urban area where beggars are more commonly seen. I believe he did well to call the police when someone was threatening others--but the coincidence of that violent person's panhandling is utterly irrelevant to the commission we have from Jesus Christ to give.
We can't judge by our own wisdom or experience who is deserving and who is not. God has commanded us so, so clearly, to give to those in need. (Many, many times--not just by Benjamin in Mosiah.) And who is to say what need we might be filling? We are to succor as well as administer substance; and I would say that we are to do both every time a beggar presents him- or herself. God WILL make up any and every last bit that we give following King Benjamin's message, given him by an angel. I have seen it, over and over, in my life. I have *never* been short changed by Jesus--much to the contrary, in fact. :-)
What about the "doing harm" angle? I don't believe we are. We are walking in obedience to a command straight from God. Jesus extends His mercy and grace to ALL. Every person has precisely the same unfailing love and unlimited grace offered to them...and how many times have each of us (myself absolutely included!) turned from what Christ has already given us, the work He already suffered and completed in victory, essentially throwing it to the gutter? I don't care if I give my meager greenback to someone who won't do with it what I would. I am called to give. I am called to love. I am called to minister in the pure love of Jesus Christ. And those who receive such from me hold in their hands the accountability for what they do with it. And God is judge. (Hallelujah!)
I have only had the chance to give to a handful of beggars in my life. And EVERY time has been a powerful experience . . . from being constrained by the Holy Ghost to turn my van around and give what little I have, to looking in their eyes and seeing something that touches my heart allowing the Holy Spirit to change me forever, to the conversations I've had with some of them. God has given me what I should say, and how much to give.
Once I gave to and talked with a teen mom in Spokane who was holding a sign on a street corner. She met me, saw my dusty, ordinary van full of kids, my humble ordinariness. We talked about the options she had for her baby. She told me a story about having nearly everything she had, stolen. I have no idea if it was true...and when I turned back a few minutes after leaving her with a hug and a fervent prayer of "God bless you," I couldn't find her, or the friend she had pointed out at the other end of the block. They had disappeared. Who knows what she did with what I gave her. I hope and pray that she sought out LDS Adoption Services for her baby's sake. But this I know: she wasn't expecting me. Christ was with me as I spoke to her, and I pray she saw and felt a tiny portion of His oceanic love. And if that costs me some money, then so be it. Our God is perfectly just, and He will not default on His promises to those who do His will.
I will do the will of Jesus.