Bartlesville Police Crack Down On Panhandling
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - Complaints about panhandling are on the rise in Bartlesville.
Now police are cracking down, under an already existing ordinance.
The ordinance has been in effect for more than two decades.
Bartlesville police said they have begun enforcing it over the last few weeks and so far people who panhandle are listening.
"Something that's in the last couple of years has kind of increased a lot. It's almost daily," said Jay Hastings, Bartlesville Police captain.
Hastings said the number of panhandling complaints have risen.
What's also changed is the way it's being enforced. If officers were previously called to a person panhandling, Hastings said, "We would leave them there doing what they were doing, if it didn't appear to be a threat. We'd also make sure that they didn't stand, in the roadway or impede traffic."
Now police are taking a different stance after doing some research. They are asking panhandlers to move.
"We will stop and warn them and let them know that for one they cant do it on city property or a city right away where most of it does occur," Hastings said.
Lisa Beeman with the City of Bartlesville said it's about safety.
She said panhandling falls under a municipal code that defines what a temporary business is. It includes anybody "seeking to obtain gifts or contributions of money clothing or any other valuable thing."
"You see the Salvation Army, and they're out there requesting donations and they're on private property you see them when you're going in and out of shopping centers, the panhandlers are treated no different," Beeman said.
She said the panhandler would need to fill out a form, and be on private property just like everyone else. The person would also need written permission from the property owner putting everyone on an even playing field.
"Were not trying to discourage and I mean I'm not this is a business it is what it is, people have to you know they make money one way or another but you have to follow the same rules," Beeman said.
Police haven't issued any citations, but it can be up to $200.
There's also a fee, if you obtain a license. It can range from $5 to $100.