Police target increase in aggressive beggars

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Police say hard times have brought more aggressive panhandlers to downtown Augusta, prompting beefed up police patrols, mostly along Broad Street.

"Of course with the economy being bad, people being out of jobs, they're going to resort to harder tactics," said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Gay. "We thought we had a good handle on it (panhandling) before, and they have progressively returned to the downtown area. So we're going to address it as often as possible."

Lt. Gay said there seems to be more people asking for money who aren't taking no for an answer. He said panhandling seems to occur most between the afternoon and early evening.

"That's the time that we are targeting," he said.

"That's the time business owners are telling us there's a problem there."

Lt. Gay said officers are mostly looking to arrest those who are aggressive in their efforts to get a handout and those who have been previously warned.

"The aggressive ones are the ones we're looking for," he said. "Someone who's having bad times (and not being aggressive), we don't want to make it worse."

One of the most recent arrests on misdemeanor aggressive panhandling occurred Nov. 27 at the 1700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It involved a 46-year-old homeless man, according to the Richmond County jail committal.

Lt. Gay said panhandlers also have been seen at Southgate shopping center.

Augusta's ordinance on aggressive panhandling forbids it at such locations as Augusta Common and along Broad Street from Fifth Street to 15th Street.

Not everyone thinks city ordinances are the solution.

The National Coalition for the Homeless believes laws that criminalize panhandlers don't solve the problem. In Cincinnati, a full-time outreach worker interacts with the homeless to get them off the street and addresses complaints prior to police involvement, the group says.

"We support the right of people to panhandle, and likewise we support the right of the citizen to give or not give, as long as the asking is being done in a non-aggressive manner," said Michael Stoops, the director of the coalition.

At issue is the definition of aggressive. Mr. Stoops said some might say asking twice for help is aggressive, but he offers the example of someone following you to an ATM after you've said no.

Police advise people to avoid panhandlers by not making eye contact or engaging in conversation with them. For those who want to help, police suggest donating to a legitimate organization that specializes in helping the homeless.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 823-3338 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

AGGRESSIVE PANHANDLING

Augusta's ordinance on aggressive panhandling forbids it in a district that includes Augusta Common and Broad Street from its intersection with Fifth Street to its intersection with 15th Street, and a district that includes the Armstrong Galleria shopping center, which is bordered by Hopkins Street, Eighth Street, Laney-Walker Boulevard and James Brown Boulevard. The ordinance is designed to keep pedestrian traffic unimpeded and to foster a safe and harassment-free environment. It defines panhandling as begging, and aggressive panhandling as that which keeps someone from passing through or remaining in a public area "because of fear, concern or apprehension by such behavior."

Source: Augusta's official government Web site

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As It Is
2
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As It Is 12/15/08 - 01:54 am
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Citizens should be able to

Citizens should be able to walk our streets wihtout being harassed for money. The National Coalition for the Homeless believes laws that criminalize panhandlers don't solve the problem. Really?? Well, isn't that just amazing as most of our laws don't solve problems but they are needed in order to have a means of keeping law and order. All the enabling groups do are provide for more excuses to be a non-productive member of society and then harass others for their hard earned money or have thieves steal and rob to get what they want w/o working for it.

slick0ne
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slick0ne 12/15/08 - 02:49 am
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McDonald's Is hiring

McDonald's Is hiring

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 12/15/08 - 03:30 am
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No one wants to be hit up for

No one wants to be hit up for money when they are going into a place of business. We have learned to be firm in Harrisburg and stand our ground. We simply tell them to get out of our face. Most of them have fried brains from drugs and booze. There are too many non profit organizations giving away goods and services. They are enabling drug addicts and alcoholics. Say no...get out of my face..If you feel threatened use deadly force..stand your own ground ..Support wwwhongkongaugustaga.org

GGpap
491
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GGpap 12/15/08 - 04:18 am
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I see the Grinch is alive and

I see the Grinch is alive and well in Augusta. "Use deadly force…" damn, some of these folks are legitimately hungry. Say NO if you must, but please, don't show your ignorance!

GACopperhead
6
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GACopperhead 12/15/08 - 05:28 am
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I'll bet every one of these

I'll bet every one of these responders call themselves Christians. They forget that one day they will face God and be asked, when I was hungry, why didn't you feed me? They deserve His judgment.

Boston93
117
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Boston93 12/15/08 - 07:00 am
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The Panhandler/Beggars

The Panhandler/Beggars downtown along with all the noises after midnight will eventually hurt downtown. Those that visit and those that spend hard earned money renting the many apartments have to tolerate this day in and day out. Also, with the many new apartments being built as I type and not yet rented or sold will most likely suffer as soon as they realize the problem. Many people like being downtown and if the city doesn't step forward and do something, it will continue to be a problem.

Brad Owens
4429
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Brad Owens 12/15/08 - 07:16 am
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I wrote that ord with David

I wrote that ord with David Moretz when we served on the DAP. It is based on the one in San Fran CA (not exactly a bastion of rightwing activity). It is fair and allows the police to have an ability to enforce standards on these panhandlers. There is much more to it than is listed here and I am proud of it. I consider it one of the best peices of legislation we passed and it has had an affect on this acidic behavior downtown. It has NOTHING to do with homelessness. Panhandling is not just done by the homeless, and not all homeless panhandle. The two issues are mutally exclusive. It shows a complete ignorance of the actual facts surrounding this issue as it affects our area to combine the issues or to try to say one causes the other. GAcopperhead, as far as me and Lord go, I will be judged on my actions and I am proud to have helped give the Sheriff a tool he can use to stop the near mugging style panhandlers that were plauging our downtown, in fact, until this was passed, there was NO legislation regulating it. Hence, the Sheriff had no way to prevent or deter these dangerous activities without it. So before you go trying to say this is sinful, I suggest you get you facts right.

GACopperhead
6
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GACopperhead 12/15/08 - 07:23 am
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Mr. Owens, I was NOT

Mr. Owens, I was NOT referring to your ordinance, or the regulating of panhandlers, per se. There SHOULD be laws to protect us from assault and I believe AGGRESSIVE panhandling is assault. I am DIRECTLY referring to those who posted previous to you who have no compassion at all. They will be judged, as will all of us, and they will be found lacking. We must have compassion for our fellow man in these times of trouble, because we must remember that our jobs, homes and dinner could very possibly be next!

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 12/15/08 - 07:44 am
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Compassion is as relative as

Compassion is as relative as aggression. I think if all panhandlers are picked up by the police and dropped in GaC's neighborhood, after being told they'll be compassionately dealt with if they limit their activity to this particular neighborhood, then everyone will be happy. No panhandlers downtown and compassionate people will have all kinds of chances to have bragging rights.

dhd1108
1
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dhd1108 12/15/08 - 08:03 am
0
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i ask 'em to do tricks before

i ask 'em to do tricks before I give them dollars. You know, if they'll stand on their head, yodel for a few mins, or eat a bug, i'd part with a Washington.

christian134
1
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christian134 12/15/08 - 08:33 am
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GACopperhead now don't you

GACopperhead now don't you believe your being a bigot and just a tad judgmental....

Chuchi
2
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Chuchi 12/15/08 - 08:35 am
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I remember once a young man

I remember once a young man approached me at a gas station, smiling and asking for $5. I asked him why he needed it, seeing as he appeared able-bodied, able to work and not mentally ill as many homeless people are. He said he was hungry. I gave him directions to the homeless shelter and soup kitchen. He walked off and asked someone else, who gave him money. The young man promptly entered a liquor store and emerged with a brown bag. At my own particular judgment, I would prefer to not be accused of, "When I was jonesing for a fix, you enabled me."

aaa
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aaa 12/15/08 - 08:49 am
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The worst place for

The worst place for panhandling in Augusta is the Augusta Mall. There are a couple of stretches along the bottom floor where you can't walk peacefully without some young girl or man running out to you to sample some cologne, perfume, or lotion. Good grief!

noone
4
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noone 12/15/08 - 10:11 am
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"Standing tall again" you are

"Standing tall again" you are right, i hate those people in the mall. As for PT's comment the people who advertise or brag that they have given charity are not true charitable souls. the bible says, i forget what verse, "give alms with the left hand so that the right hand will not know" or something to that nature, i'm paraphrasing here. but i take it to mean that if you are truely charitable you should give anonamously

Dixieman
14943
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Dixieman 12/15/08 - 10:15 am
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Nobody has the right to get

Nobody has the right to get all up in my face. Ask me once, politely, then buzz off.

Chuchi
2
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Chuchi 12/15/08 - 10:35 am
0
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Last week I was shopping in

Last week I was shopping in the Dean's Bridge Walmart. A young woman approached me and asked me if I was paying for my items with cash. Startled, I answered, "Um, no." She said, "Oh, well, we were trying to ask for gas money," and walked off. Then when I had finished loading up my groceries in my trunk a young man approached me, mumbling incoherently about needing money so he could take his daughter to the hospital. My suggestion was that if his child needed a hospital then he should dial 911. He grinned and wandered off. So unwary citizens, understand that rather than soliciting the appropriate charities and churches for help, strangers who ask you for money are not doing so because they need food, shelter and job training. They have another purpose in mind, and it's not necessarily a good one.

whitescorpion
2
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whitescorpion 12/15/08 - 10:57 am
0
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I rarely give money to pan

I rarely give money to pan handlers, I simply and politely say "no." A few years ago I was approached by a pan handler in the parking lot of a homeless shelter who wanted money for cigarettes. When I didn't give anything he actually turned confrontational and then physical! He could not believe I would not give him money for smokes. Unfortunately, the confrontation ended with me knocking him on his backside.

Frank
3
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Frank 12/15/08 - 11:03 am
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I recommend checking the BP

I recommend checking the BP on the 400 block of Broad St. I see the same individuals down there and on multiple occasions had to say no more than once on the way in the establishment AND on the way out of the establishment..

curly123053
4671
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curly123053 12/15/08 - 11:12 am
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Somebody tell me how to tell

Somebody tell me how to tell the difference between a panhandler who really is in need of a handout, and a panhandler who is just plain too lazy to work for their living?
I have been approaced multiple times by panhandlers near the Bilo in Southgate Plaza. This is a bad area for getting stopped by a panhandler. A few I have felt sorry for and some have raised suspicions at their sob stories. One man stopped me with a sob story as he was outside the Southgate Bilo. His pregnant wife was sitting at the Waffle House at Southgate waiting for him to return with enough money to rent a room across the street at the motel. As the man was giving me a real good sob story his friend walked out of the Bilo store with a pint of beer he had just bought. I just walked away as his friend became speechless.

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 12/15/08 - 11:42 am
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GGpap ...You oviously do not

GGpap ...You oviously do not get approached often by aggressive pan handlers. I wish one would jump you one day. Airhead.

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 12/15/08 - 11:51 am
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GACopperhead The wages of

GACopperhead The wages of sing is death. And,,,the dead know nothing ...so who cares ? Eternal life would get old. What is wrong with oblivion? Have and nice "eternity". AirHead!

rufus
2
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rufus 12/15/08 - 12:58 pm
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There was a fellow in Atlanta

There was a fellow in Atlanta a few years back that was approached by a begger at a Falcons game. He told the guy to get a job if he wanted money and walked away. The begger came up behind him and bear hugged him from behind then he pile drove him head first into the concrete. Be careful what you say to them, they are a few bricks shy of a load.

steve-o
0
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steve-o 12/15/08 - 02:01 pm
0
0
I'd hate to have to waste a

I'd hate to have to waste a $1.50 bullet to keep a bum from strong arm robbing me.

dale88fan
0
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dale88fan 12/15/08 - 04:07 pm
0
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God created the earth in 5

God created the earth in 5 days- I am sure that if he were hungry he could whip up something in no time to eat without begging for it. Get a job like everyone else!

Ken
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Ken 12/15/08 - 06:40 pm
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I think we should dedicate a

I think we should dedicate a specific area that is legal for panhandling and gives the passers-by an opportunity to donate money, coupons for food, gift certificates for necessities, clothes and information for help with lodging, medical assistance or transportation. Many people who are homeless or destitute resort to doing what's left, panhandling. I agree with the police on aggressive or strong-arm tactics it should not be tolerated. Young people who are run-aways should be given an opportunity to get help from any of the agencies that offer this type of help to contact their families and help get them off the streets. The rest of the people need to abide by the laws that govern this type of behavior. After reading some of the posts here I can see the hypocrisy from the good Christian folks who live in an area with a church on every corner. What happened to feed the hungry, help the people in need and do unto others? These people’s 401K’s ran out a long time ago sports fans.

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 12/15/08 - 11:27 pm
0
0
I am likely to give to a pan

I am likely to give to a pan handler if he or she is polite and speaks well spoken grammatically correct English.

steve-o
0
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steve-o 12/16/08 - 12:17 am
0
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Most of them are Obama

Most of them are Obama supporters- they wander around getting in peoples faces chanting "CHANGE?"

Just Another Day
0
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Just Another Day 12/15/09 - 04:35 pm
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crazy coloreds

crazy coloreds

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 12/15/09 - 06:00 pm
0
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perhaps they could put in a

perhaps they could put in a parking meter for the homeless like they have in Athens.

corgimom
32474
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corgimom 12/15/09 - 08:22 pm
0
0
How are they hungry in the

How are they hungry in the afternoon? They had a free meal at the Master's Table. If they're hungry, it's their own fault.

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