Monday, August 12, 2013

Understaffed IMPD Crackdown on Panhandling Coincides With First Colts Game

IMPD finally decided to enforce the panhandling ordinance...on the same date of the first preseason Colts game.

Yes, IMPD spent time and manpower today looking for "aggressive panhandlers" downtown, according to Fox 59.  This action comes after the Ballard Administration took a ton of criticism for not enforcing the current panhandling ordinance that is on the books while asking for a new, more restrictive ordinance.  That more restrictive ordinance failed much to the consternation of Mayor Greg Ballard.

Visit Indy told Fox 59 "that nearly a dozen conventions have bypassed Indianapolis in the last year, in part, to excessive panhandling on downtown streets."  Nearly a dozen?  Is that 10, 11, or 8?  Not being able to put a specific number on it bothers me.  Furthermore, I'd have to think the city's high taxes on hotel rooms and high taxes on rental cars can't really help.  Of course, we have Republicans and Democrats to thank for that one.

I still remain convinced that IMPD should have better things to do than trying to corral panhandlers.  Perhaps if we spent money and attacked the causes of panhandling that we might have more success instead of spending money on law enforcement to fight it while it's happening.  IMPD's staffing numbers are too low to worry about petty crime like panhandling.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

What more can be done to address the situation of panhandling. We have shelters, we have donation boxes, we have churches and other organizations that work with the homeless. When was the last time you were downtown? I know when I am down there, there is always someone around pushing there cup at you and rattling it. Not everyone feels comfortable when this happens and when you are not comfortable most people will avoid the situation. I just ignore them and walk on. I have no problem with the ones who set up and play music or perform as they are providing some entertainment. It is the aggressive ones who get in your face about it that are the problem. By the way there will be a huge convention this week. Do you think the police will continue to move the panhandlers out or is it just for the Colts games?

Jon Easter said...

I was downtown on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Jon - you might feel differently if you were downtown five days a week.
On a typical lunch hour if I walk 3 or 4 blocks through the Circle, I will pass at least a half dozen panhandlers. This always includes the same guy who has been asking for your changes, 10's and 20's, for the 16 years I have worked downtown. I remember him because I gave him money to get a bus ticket to Little Rock the first week I worked downtown. He's still here.
I see them approach families all the time. And it makes them very uncomfortable.
Whether the Colts game was the time to start cracking down or not, the fact is the panhandlers are a nuisance and I can easily see why they would scare off business. There was a discussion a on a Notre Dame fan board a few months ago about it
http://www.ndnation.com/boards/showpost.php?b=backroom;pid=76541;d=all

Anonymous said...

You seem cynical about the timing for some reason but either way it's good for the city to get more proactive on this issue. Panhandling downtown is far too common these days. Of course when apparently you can make $60 dollars a day cash I can see why. Any actual unlawful panhandling downtown should not just be ignored by a city that has taken years to build an image as a great place to hold conventions and have events in its downtown. Anecdotal bad experiences downtown ultimately become negative perceptions that take considerable efforts to overcome. If it can be demonstrated by Visit Indy (perhaps from direct feedback they received?) as a factor on why the city lost some major conventions whether its a dozen or a few that would seem important to our city. Don't forget, single events downtown inject millions of dollars into the city's economy directly and indirectly which in turn of course helps fund those more police officers you want. It may not be assault and robbery but the little things matter too and in the case of panhandling while on the surface it may seem minor to some it is having a disproportionate negative effect on the city.

kris said...

i'm downtown 7 days a week because i live downtown. and it is a problem. and it is radiating out from the city. there are multiple panhandlers on 16th street now.

when i am in the mile square, it's worse. and i will say that i have never avoided it because of panhandlers, but i always shake my head and say "why isn't someone doing something about this?"

so, i don't understand the argument against enforcing the law.