Panhandlers in Jefferson County - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Growing concerns over panhandlers in Jefferson County

Posted: Updated:
A panhandler on Lakeshore Drive near the turn lane for the Highway 280 East on-ramp. (abc3340.com) A panhandler on Lakeshore Drive near the turn lane for the Highway 280 East on-ramp. (abc3340.com)
JEFFERSON COUNTY - AL -

Panhandling is illegal. And, according to Birmingham's City Action Partnership, most panhandlers are not homeless and most homeless are not panhandlers.

John Wallace was standing on the I-459 off-ramp at Highway 280 early Wednesday afternoon.

He tells me that he and his wife have been living under the highway bridge for the last three weeks.

The next morning, Wallace and the woman were gone. Instead, a new man stood in the same spot.

Take a trip down Highway 280 to the Lakeshore exit, you'll find more panhandlers.

Click image to enlarge.

A man sits on a guardrail next to the Highway 280 East on-ramp turn lane off of Lakeshore Drive. (abc3340.com)

Tony Cooper is executive director of the Jimmie Hale Mission, an organization aimed at getting homeless men off the street and their lives on track.

"We are a giving, caring community, and I think they are taking advantage of that," says Cooper.

Cooper says, giving money to panhandlers doesn't help.

"If I'm doing something for you that you can do for yourself, then I'm contributing to your irresponsibility," says Cooper. "Are these people needing assistance, yes. Is money the answer for that, probably no."

Click image to enlarge.

Another man sits on a Lakeshore Drive guardrail near Brookwood Mall. (abc3340.com)

Cooper says if kind souls try to offer real help, like food or work, panhandlers often reject them.

"Giving money is for the vast majority of the time is just not helping them. And the panhandlers, for most of them, it's a scam. And they are taking advantage of your generosity and compassion," says Cooper.

Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian says spotting the scammers isn't difficult.

"They're very aggressive. They get into traffic, impede it. Knock on windows. That's the ones we get calls on and that's the ones we want to get calls on," says Christian.

Christian says that if any panhandler becomes aggressive or verbally assaults a driver contact authorities.

Chief Christian says some of these panhandlers have outstanding warrants, with criminal history of drug charges, robbery even attempted murder.

"We warn them, and if they continue then we arrest them for loitering. If they truly need some help, a roof and a couple of meals isn't so bad. But if they're scammers, then jail is where they ought to be anyway," says Christian.

Cooper offers a message with which many others agree.

"I wish these people would invest the time that they're putting out here panhandling. I wish they would put the time in themselves, in getting in a program like ours where they can better themselves and have more of a future," says Cooper.


The City Action Partnership agrees with Tony Cooper.  Giving panhandlers money may simply support an addiction.  They say you should say "no" and drive or walk on.

Also to notice what the panhandler is wearing, where he is and then give this information to police.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Deputy Arrested For Synthetic Marijuana

    Deputy Arrested For Synthetic Marijuana

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:57 AM EDT2014-04-24 11:57:01 GMT
    A Russell County Sheriff's deputy is accused of participating in a drug trafficking operation.The man was arrested Wednesday after police found 1.5 pounds of synthetic marijuana, or spice, in his Lee County apartment. The deputy has been with the sheriff's department for about two months where he worked in the traffic division. He previously worked as a police officer in Phenix City, Ala.It's unclear if charges have officially been filed in the case. A call to the sheriff's office wasn't imme...More >>
    A Russell County Sheriff's deputy is accused of participating in a drug trafficking operation.The man was arrested Wednesday after police found 1.5 pounds of synthetic marijuana, or spice, in his Lee County apartment. The deputy has been with the sheriff's department for about two months where he worked in the traffic division. He previously worked as a police officer in Phenix City, Ala.It's unclear if charges have officially been filed in the case. A call to the sheriff's office wasn't imme...More >>
  • U.S. Space and Rocket Center: Make donation, take aerial tour of Huntsville with NASA Astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson

    U.S. Space and Rocket Center: Make donation, take aerial tour of Huntsville with NASA Astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:52 PM EDT2014-04-24 01:52:00 GMT
    The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation in Huntsville, Alabama is asking for your help to raise $70,000 to begin installation of a Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Shuttle Park.The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation in Huntsville, Alabama is asking for your help to raise $70,000 to begin installation of a Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Shuttle Park.
    For a generous donation, one can take flight with a veteran NASA astronaut in a shuttle training aircraft and get a birds-eye view of Huntsville, including a rare view of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center campus, organizers announced Wednesday.More >>
    For a generous donation, one can take flight with a veteran NASA astronaut in a shuttle training aircraft and get a birds-eye view of Huntsville, including a rare view of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center campus, organizers announced Wednesday.More >>
  • More guilty pleas expected in multi-state dog fighting probe

    More guilty pleas expected in multi-state dog fighting probe

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:08 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:08:05 GMT
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Seven of the 14 people arrested in a multi-state dog fighting investigation have filed court papers saying they want to plead guilty. Jennifer McDonald of Fairburn, Ga.; Michael Martin of Auburn, Ala.; and Ricky Van Le of Biloxi, Miss., are the latest to file papers in federal court in Montgomery. Four others previously sent paperwork saying that they want to change their pleas to guilty. They are Lawrence Watford of Adel, Ga.; William Oneil Edwards of Elba, Ala.; DeMo...More >>
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Seven of the 14 people arrested in a multi-state dog fighting investigation have filed court papers saying they want to plead guilty. Jennifer McDonald of Fairburn, Ga.; Michael Martin of Auburn, Ala.; and Ricky Van Le of Biloxi, Miss., are the latest to file papers in federal court in Montgomery. Four others previously sent paperwork saying that they want to change their pleas to guilty. They are Lawrence Watford of Adel, Ga.; William Oneil Edwards of Elba, Ala.; DeMo...More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Gadsden man found with over 600 pornographic images and videos, arrested on child porn charges

    Gadsden man found with over 600 pornographic images and videos, arrested on child porn charges

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:11 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:11:36 GMT
    Pablo Gabriel UrbinaPablo Gabriel Urbina
    A Gadsden man was arrested Tuesday on child pornography charges following an extensive investigation by several law enforcement agencies, the Etowah County Sheriff's Office said.More >>
    A Gadsden man was arrested Tuesday on child pornography charges following an extensive investigation by several law enforcement agencies, the Etowah County Sheriff's Office said.More >>
  • Search for Riverside man in Logan Martin Lake enters day 3

    Search for Riverside man in Logan Martin Lake enters day 3

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:31 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:31:06 GMT
    Various law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake. (abc3340.com)Various law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake. (abc3340.com)
    The search continues for a Riverside man who fell from a fishing boat in Logan Martin Lake on Sunday.More >>
    The search continues for a Riverside man who fell from a fishing boat in Logan Martin Lake on Sunday.
    More >>
  • Officer-involved shooting in Anniston leaves 53-year-old man dead

    Officer-involved shooting in Anniston leaves 53-year-old man dead

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:24 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:24:15 GMT
    ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Calhoun County officials say Anniston police fatally shot a man who was accused of pointing a gun at them. According to County Coroner Shane Adrian, 53-year-old Frank Charles Johnston was pronounced dead after being shot outside his house in the Blue Mountain area Tuesday morning. Adrian says neighbors told investigators that Johnston was standing in the street with a gun and that he pointed the weapon at responding officers. Adrian says Johnston's body is being taken to...More >>
    ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Calhoun County officials say Anniston police fatally shot a man who was accused of pointing a gun at them. According to County Coroner Shane Adrian, 53-year-old Frank Charles Johnston was pronounced dead after being shot outside his house in the Blue Mountain area Tuesday morning. Adrian says neighbors told investigators that Johnston was standing in the street with a gun and that he pointed the weapon at responding officers. Adrian says Johnston's body is being taken to...More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Deputy Arrested For Synthetic Marijuana

    Deputy Arrested For Synthetic Marijuana

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:57 AM EDT2014-04-24 11:57:01 GMT
    A Russell County Sheriff's deputy is accused of participating in a drug trafficking operation.The man was arrested Wednesday after police found 1.5 pounds of synthetic marijuana, or spice, in his Lee County apartment. The deputy has been with the sheriff's department for about two months where he worked in the traffic division. He previously worked as a police officer in Phenix City, Ala.It's unclear if charges have officially been filed in the case. A call to the sheriff's office wasn't imme...More >>
    A Russell County Sheriff's deputy is accused of participating in a drug trafficking operation.The man was arrested Wednesday after police found 1.5 pounds of synthetic marijuana, or spice, in his Lee County apartment. The deputy has been with the sheriff's department for about two months where he worked in the traffic division. He previously worked as a police officer in Phenix City, Ala.It's unclear if charges have officially been filed in the case. A call to the sheriff's office wasn't imme...More >>
  • Officer involved in shooting in Birmingham

    Officer involved in shooting in Birmingham

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:47 AM EDT2014-04-24 11:47:41 GMT
    Investigators are on the scene of a police involved shooting in Birmingham that stemmed from a robbery.More >>
    Investigators are on the scene of a police involved shooting in Birmingham that stemmed from a robbery.More >>
  • TechBits: portable power (04.23.14)

    TechBits: portable power (04.23.14)

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 10:41 PM EDT2014-04-24 02:41:00 GMT
    There are many options for getting extra power to your portable devices- and they go beyond just batteries..The EnerPlex Surfr series phone cases have solar panels built in. They generate power from the sun, and store it in an internal battery you use to power up your phone. They make the phone a little big and bulky- but they can be invaluable to hikers or campers.Dane-Elec provides power and data with the Mobile Junkie Media Streamer. The unit has a built-in battery beefy enough to complete...More >>
    There are many options for getting extra power to your portable devices- and they go beyond just batteries..The EnerPlex Surfr series phone cases have solar panels built in. They generate power from the sun, and store it in an internal battery you use to power up your phone. They make the phone a little big and bulky- but they can be invaluable to hikers or campers.Dane-Elec provides power and data with the Mobile Junkie Media Streamer. The unit has a built-in battery beefy enough to complete...More >>
  • Birmingham Mayor issues takeover agreement amid lawsuit over precinct construction

    Birmingham Mayor issues takeover agreement amid lawsuit over precinct construction

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 10:32 PM EDT2014-04-24 02:32:26 GMT
    Birmingham Mayor William Bell addressed police officers Wednesday at the city's West Precinct following years of delay to construction of a new site.ABC 33/40 has learned some people say parts of the building is in dire need of upgrades. A few years ago, the city approved a plan for new construction. Since then, it has been delayed. A contractor for the project, Chris Woods, has also filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming city leaders stalled progress.Bell did not speak directly to that l...More >>
    Birmingham Mayor William Bell addressed police officers Wednesday at the city's West Precinct following years of delay to construction of a new site.ABC 33/40 has learned some people say parts of the building is in dire need of upgrades. A few years ago, the city approved a plan for new construction. Since then, it has been delayed. A contractor for the project, Chris Woods, has also filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming city leaders stalled progress.Bell did not speak directly to that l...More >>
  • Burned body found in Fairfield identified as 22-year-old Pinson woman

    Burned body found in Fairfield identified as 22-year-old Pinson woman

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:52 PM EDT2014-04-24 01:52:02 GMT
     The body of 22-year-old Megan Elizabeth Monroe, of Pinson, was found outside this home in Fairfield, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (abc3340.com) The body of 22-year-old Megan Elizabeth Monroe, of Pinson, was found outside this home in Fairfield, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (abc3340.com)
    Police have identified the burned body found last weekend behind a vacant home in Fairfield as a 22-year-old Pinson woman.More >>
    Police have identified the burned body found last weekend behind a vacant home in Fairfield as a 22-year-old Pinson woman.More >>
  • U.S. Space and Rocket Center: Make donation, take aerial tour of Huntsville with NASA Astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson

    U.S. Space and Rocket Center: Make donation, take aerial tour of Huntsville with NASA Astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:52 PM EDT2014-04-24 01:52:00 GMT
    The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation in Huntsville, Alabama is asking for your help to raise $70,000 to begin installation of a Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Shuttle Park.The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation in Huntsville, Alabama is asking for your help to raise $70,000 to begin installation of a Gulfstream II Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Shuttle Park.
    For a generous donation, one can take flight with a veteran NASA astronaut in a shuttle training aircraft and get a birds-eye view of Huntsville, including a rare view of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center campus, organizers announced Wednesday.More >>
    For a generous donation, one can take flight with a veteran NASA astronaut in a shuttle training aircraft and get a birds-eye view of Huntsville, including a rare view of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center campus, organizers announced Wednesday.More >>
  • NWS Birmingham to replace tower by May 3

    NWS Birmingham to replace tower by May 3

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:45 PM EDT2014-04-24 01:45:18 GMT
    The National Weather Service Birmingham office is offering weather-related alternatives after a recent transmitter outage. The service's tower, which sits atop Red Mountain, failed over the weekend. NWSMore >>
    UpdateMore >>
  • Amber Alert issued for 2-year-old girl from Mississippi

    Amber Alert issued for 2-year-old girl from Mississippi

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:16 PM EDT2014-04-24 00:16:07 GMT
    THE MISSISSIPPI HIGHWAY PATROL HAS ISSUED AN AMBER ALERT FOR 2-YEAR-OLD MALIAH HARRIS, WHO WAS ABDUCTED THIS MORNING FROM CALEDONIA, MISSISSIPPI.More >>
    The Mississippi Highway Patrol has issued an amber alert for 2-year-old Maliah Harris, who was allegedly abducted Wednesday morning from Caledonia, Mississippi. More >>