Aggressive panhandling hard to curtail - News, Weather & Sports

Aggressive panhandling hard to curtail

One of the panhandlers we encountered during this story. One of the panhandlers we encountered during this story.
Councilman Jerry Miller (R-District 19) Councilman Jerry Miller (R-District 19)
A panhandler taking money from a driver at an interstate exit ramp. A panhandler taking money from a driver at an interstate exit ramp.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – They claimed to be homeless. We showed the panhandlers were not. Cops chased them away. We videotaped them coming right back.

Metro Councilman Jerry Miller (R-District 19) used our report to get Metro Council to change the way Louisville handles panhandling. They decriminalized passive panhandling, and enhanced penalties on aggressive panhandling. Aggressive panhandling is defined as asking for money at exit ramps, or near ATM's, or business entrances, or following people after dark.

"The idea is to get LMPD to focus on the aggressive people," said Miller.

Lately, we noticed aggressive panhandling to be worse than ever downtown. They're all over exit ramps, business entrances, and they pounce the second you open your car door.

"You ain't got any loose change do you, or a dollar or two?" said one panhandler standing in the entrance to a business. "I'm trying to get something to eat for real. I'm not gonna lie to you, whatever you can afford."

It's not a case of passive enforcement. In fact, our investigation found the opposite is true. I examined every panhandling case in Louisville over the past six months, since the new law went into effect, and found an all out panhandling war going on. There were 128 panhandling arrests, mostly downtown. I counted 82 of them for aggressive panhandling, where police sock them with extra charges like criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, and alcohol intoxication.

Some are dangerous. One report noted "subject lifted shirt when confronted showing knife." Some are brazen. One report noted a panhandler confronted an "on duty, uniformed police officer in marked police vehicle after dark, flagging officer down, approaching vehicle."

Most of the panhandlers I questioned knew about the aggressive panhandling law. They said they have not been confronted by police.

"It's a sad commentary on the times, unfortunately, but again the homeless community has tremendous support in Louisville," said Miller. "We are known as a place that's compassionate."

The fine for passive panhandling is now reduced to $25, with no court appearance or jail time. Aggressive panhandling is a fine of $250, and up to 90 days in jail. I checked some of the frequent offenders and found they are getting socked with fines and jail time.

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