Philadelphia police plan an attack on panhandlers in the city’s central business district. Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson says his officers soon will go after aggressive street beggars, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “We think [panhandling] may be eventually doing damage to the city,” he said. “Our idea is for people… [who] come to the city to be able to go to the shows, or to stores, without these people panhandling.” Dozens of corners will be targeted.
The Inquirer notes that the move comes as Mayor John Street is seeking reelection and will again need votes from the typically white, typically liberal residents of Center City. Street will face Sam Katz in November. Center City business owners and residents have been complaining about the rise of panhandling, which they say threatens sales and makes life unpleasant for homeowners.
Enforcement powers are limited. Before police can move an illegal panhandler, the person must be offered social services from a homeless-outreach team. If the individual still disobeys a police order to stop, the officer can issue a notice of violation or forcibly remove the offender.