Panhandlers Could Face Lean Times - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Panhandlers Could Face Lean Times

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There are a number of businesses along the Shawnee Bypass. It's a high traffic area where panhandling is becoming more of a problem in Muskogee. The panhandlers are usually camped outside Walmart and Chili's... or at stop signs nearby. We found this pair west of Walmart and tried to talk to them.

They packed up and left when our camera followed in pursuit watch as they became more agitated.

"Those people who are out there panhandling, they're not interested in a shelter they're not interested in a place to eat they're interested in the dollars," says Muskogee City Councilor Randy Howard.

  Howard wants to see Muskogee's panhandling ordinance strengthened. Since last year only 4 tickets have been issued.  

"It's getting a little out of control but I don't see nothing wrong with it sometimes," says Bryan Colbert in Muskogee. 

"No one wants to be mooched off of," says John Thomas in Muskogee.

The other issue here is the impact around businesses. A new convenience store will go in and a new hotel is under construction. Councilor Howard doesn't what interference from panhandlers 

"Some of the businesses are fast food restaurants and they're out there in front and basically and people don't want to stop there and be accosted by panhandlers.

One idea being tossed around is requiring panhandlers to have permits to operate hoping the extra step will deter panhandlers from coming to Muskogee. Already, they're supposed to wear protective vests, but Councilor Howard says that's not happening. 

 I believe it's a hundred dollar fine that's what we need to discuss and revisit

The committee meets on Tuesday to discuss further the panhandling issue how they can work with law enforcement to help alleviate this problem. 

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