Salina Police are again responding to complaints regarding panhandlers in the community. Local authorities recommend that in lieu of giving money to panhandlers, instead donate to programs such as Catholic Charities, the Emergency Aid Food Bank, the Salina Area United Way, or the Salvation Army.
Salina Police issued a statement on the issue via social media on Friday morning:
“Recently, there has been an increase in complaints/questions on social media regarding panhandlers in our community. A common question is why can’t the police just move them along or why can’t they be arrested? The simple answer is each of us has a constitutional right to ask others for money as long as it is not done in a threatening or aggressive manner. Salina does have a ordinance forbidding aggressive panhandling. This offense requires a victim and the elements of the crime of aggressive panhandling to be present. Aggressive panhandling would entail threatening approaches, following, physical contact, or verbal threats.
Panhandling is more of a societal problem than it is a law enforcement issue. An easy solution to this problem is to NOT give money to panhandlers. Giving panhandlers money discourages them from seeking the services they may truly need.
Giving money to a panhandler can actually be harmful to Salina as it diverts money that could be going towards assistance programs already in place designed to help those in need. Research has shown that the donated money received by panhandlers often is used to buy alcohol and/or illegal drugs. It is imperative that citizens of Salina and Saline County realize that there is a strong relationship between panhandling and substance abuse.
In addition, many of these panhandlers are simply frauds as they are not actually in need or may not even be from our area. They are simply taking advantage of the compassion and generosity of the citizens of Salina.
Panhandling will cease to be an issue if the community collectively decides against giving individuals money for dubious reasons at best.”