Safety concerns over increased panhandling in Hot Springs

Panhandling increase becomes safety concern

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - In Hot Springs, an influx of people begging for money has become a safety concern. Now the police department is trying to do something about it. A proposal would limit where panhandlers could stand. Police have seen more panhandlers over the past several months while also receiving more calls on the issue.

“A lot of times it’s because an accident almost happened, someone stepped in the road they almost hit them or they almost hit someone else," said Corporal Kirk Zaner with the Hot Springs Police Department.

The police department is proposing an ordinance that would limit solicitation in streets, medians, and roadways. They wouldn’t regulate solicitation on sidewalks or any public property.

“We’re not going to limit anyone’s constitutional rights to do that,” said Zaner.

Zaner adds they’ve sent officers out to offer assistance.

“We’ve offered them rides to find jobs which they’ve all turned down,” said Zaner.

He says part of the problem is panhandlers from out of state. They've talked to people from California, Louisiana, and Washington State.

“They think it’s an area they can do it legally,” said Zaner.

The Hot Springs Board of Directors will consider the ordinance at their next meeting Tuesday. Corporal Zaner adds they don't know what the fines would be yet if this passes.



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