Keep The Change, Utica Police Receiving Numerous Panhandling Complaints
Utica Police say they’ve been receiving numerous complaints recently regarding individuals soliciting money from passing motorists at various intersections throughout the city.
Police say there are concerns for the safety of the individual asking for money and of the passing motorists due to the activity taking place close to the roadway.
The section of New York State Penal Law which prohibited Loitering for the Purpose of Begging was repealed several years ago and police say there is currently no law which prohibits this behavior.
However, police say the obstruction of a roadway by an individual is unlawful and violations of the law will be enforced.
Police are asking the public to considering making a charitable donation to one of several agencies in the city which provide assistance to those in need.
The members of the Utica Police Department will refer the individuals asking for money to the appropriate social services organization that can assist them.
Utica Common Councilor at-large Samantha Colosimo-Testa tells WIBX she’s had several people reach out to her regarding the issue.
“Pan Handling is becoming an increasing issue in all parts of Utica, when the State decriminalized it, it leaves no proper procedure, to go through a system, those pan handling, have to follow,” said Colosimo-Testa. “It is extremely important to follow the suggestions given by the Utica Police Department, as they exhausted all avenues, in making sure those that are pan handling have the opportunity for, shelter, food and job opportunities. I have seen on several occasions when an accident, has almost occurred by trying to give a donation to the person, it's time to give to the charities that will help those in need.”