Frankfort tries to get a handle on panhandling with new ordinance

The city of Frankfort is looking to crack down on panhandling. To help stop the aggressive begging, city leaders are now trying to push a new ordinance forward.

Posted: Jan. 23, 2018 11:41 PM
Updated: Jan. 24, 2018 10:04 AM

FRANKFORT, Ind. (WLFI) -- The city of Frankfort is looking to crack down on panhandling. To help stop the aggressive begging, city leaders are now trying to push a new ordinance forward.

"I just can't see it happening in Frankfort," said Billie Roberts, a Frankfort resident.

Panhandling has ramped up in the city of Frankfort.

"There's been a big increase in panhandling and people that are begging for money and begging for other things downtown in front of the buildings, the businesses, the banks, the stores and the library," said Capt. James Skinner with the Frankfort Police Department. "And some people don't want to take the word no."

"I have teenage daughters and I would feel sorry for anyone that would do that to my kid," said Roberts.

Police said the begging has been aggressive and threatening. They said most of the panhandlers have been targeting women.

"It's very scary because I have a child," said Abygail Unger, another resident.

"If these people are told no, they'll actually follow these people or chase them wanting to know why they won't give them money or anything," said Skinner.

To help put a stop to it, Frankfort is now trying to put a new ordinance in place. The ordinance would fine panhandlers $50 and they would need to appear in front of the city judge.

"With this ordinance, we're going to be able to stop this," said Skinner.

Right now, the city follows state statute which says a police officer has to witness the panhandling. From there, it's only a misdemeanor, which is tough to prove and hardly ever ends in an arrest or charge.

"I think with this ordinance, we're going to have the teeth to enforce the law," said Skinner. "And therefore, when this begins it won't take long for these people to get the word -- that if you do this, you're going to be arrested or cited."

If the ordinance passes, someone just needs to make an officer aware it happened and a ticket will be issued to the offender.

"I think it's nice to know that the city is going to do something about it," said Unger.

"These people don't have the money to start with, so they can't pay a ticket. They're going to have to move on," said Skinner.

The city council had its first reading of the ordinance Monday night and it passed. There are still two more readings before the ordinance can take effect.

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