Minneapolis Police Chief William McManus has proposed that panhandlers should face arrest unless they’re wearing a photo ID issued by the city, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The idea has been used in Dayton, Ohio, where McManus was chief, and a handful of other big cities as a way to curb public begging. The begging badges have encountered resistance from homeless advocates. Once a year, people who plan to panhandle would register with the city, have their picture taken and be issued an ID that they would be required to display while they beg.
It isn’t the first time Minneapolis has tried to crack down on proliferating panhandling. A little more than a year ago, a judge ruled that begging is a form of protected speech and tossed out the city’s begging ordinance because it offered beggars no alternative way to express themselves. The current ordinance allows a panhandler’s arrest only after an officer observes a fair amount of behavior beyond asking for money, and the officer has to be able to articulate it. “If they do have a license, we would make sure they are operating within the guidelines and behaving themselves,” said one officer. “If not, their license can get revoked. Then if they misbehave in the future, they get arrested.”