Society

Police Department Advises Against Giving to Panhandlers

| by Jordan Smith
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A police department is urging residents to stop giving panhandlers money and to donate to charity instead.

The Cheyenne Police Department launched the initiative after they arrested a homeless person they said has been frequently taken into custody, KRDO reported.

Police arrested the man July 22 for public intoxication. In a Facebook post, the department alleged that he had collected $234.07 in a few hours of panhandling.

"This is a person we frequently deal with, but we want to illustrate that there are better ways to help the transient population than to give them money for panhandling," the post stated, according to KRDO.

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The police department suggested donating money to homeless charities rather than "feeding someone's alcohol addiction."

Kevin Malatesta, a spokesman for the department, told KGAB that, contrary to rumors circulating online, officers did not confiscate the money from the man.

He also noted that, while the department discourages panhandling in the city, it is not a crime unless traffic is being obstructed.

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The Cheyenne Police Department is not alone in seeking to discourage panhandling. In Sacramento, the local police department is proposing a series of changes to the city's panhandling and nuisance ordinances.

One change would prevent people from begging for money at gas stations, ATMs, the median of roadways, within 200 feet of intersections, within 50 feet of bus stops and within 35 feet of a driveway of a business.

The new regulations would also allow police, park rangers or city managers to remove people from parks for being disruptive, according to Capital Public Radio News. A committee in the city council will examine the proposals and decide whether to put them to a vote.

In Manchester, New Hampshire, new signs have been put up telling people to give to charity rather than panhandlers. The signs warn, "Your generosity could lead to a fatality," according to WBZ.

"Ask yourself, in your generosity, the spirit of giving, when you give somebody five dollars -- would you be okay if that five dollars was a fatal overdose for the person who took it, used drugs, and then overdosed and died from it?" Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard told WBZ.

The police say that 24 people engaged in panhandling in the city have overdosed since 2015, six of whom have died.

"Even if they're not addicted to drugs, they're panhandling for alcohol, they're panhandling for cigarettes," added Willard. "They're panhandling for those things that we as a society don't provide for your basic needs, and I think people need to understand that."

He suggested that drivers could be given a citation if they are caught giving money to panhandlers.

Sources: KRDO, KGAB, Capital Public Radio News, WBZ / Photo credit: Gerald Nino/Wikimedia Commons, Zuzu/Wikimedia Commons, IFCAR/Wikimedia Commons

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