Elizabethtown Police, United Way team up to tackle panhandling

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) – New efforts have started to stop panhandling on the streets of Elizabethtown.

The Elizabethtown Police Department and United Way of Kentucky have teamed up to take on a public education campaign to raise awareness of the potential problems caused by giving to panhandlers.

In 2017, the Kentucky State Supreme Court ruled that ordinances prohibiting begging and soliciting on public streets was unconstitutional. Since then, EPD said the city has seen an influx of panhandlers in the area.

The goal of the campaign is to lead the community to donate to vetted charitable organizations instead of panhandlers, which would relieve crucial needs in the area.

When thinking about giving money to a panhandler, police have advised drivers and pedestrians to think twice because there is no way to know what the money is really going to.

"Panhandlers misrepresent their situations and some of them have drug and alcohol addictions," Officer John Thomas with EPD said. "Giving to them simply feeds into those addictions and the bottom line is there is no way to truly vet panhandlers."

The signs will be placed in six locations in the city, encouraging drivers to not give money to panhandlers. Those same signs will also encourage people to donate to a charity instead and provide a link to do so.

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