SIOUX FALLS, SD -
The Sioux Falls Police Chief has come forward with a plan to limit solicitors in the city.
A revised soliciting ordinance just hit policy makers at city hall. Eventually it could head to the city council. It would replace the city's current ordinance.
Police chief Doug Barthel says it isn't designed to restrict anyone's personal freedoms, like Freedom of Speech and he says the main reason for the update is safety.
Boone Vandis is on his way to North Dakota to find work. Sioux Falls is just a pit-stop as he and his dog solicit money from drivers along Louise Avenue. Vadnis says on a good day he'll get $20 or more .
Sioux Falls police say panhandler calls have picked up and it's time to tighten restrictions on them.
“Our goal here is not to go after the needy or the homeless or people that truly might need the money or the food. But we believe there are better ways you can do that,” Barthel said.
The revised ordinance that’s making its way through the public services committee would not allow panhandlers to solicit aggressively in public. It would also require that anyone asking for money on private property get permission from the property owner. But one of the biggest changes is that solicitors cannot ask for money from vehicles in traffic.
“They're going to come walking in traffic and if they have to come walking out through cars to get to me when light is red. And then the light is green, it's definitely a hazard,” Barthel said.
“We're not aggressively going up to people and asking them or anything like that. We're just standing there holding a piece of cardboard,” Vadnis said.
That's why Vadnis isn't impressed with the restrictions.
“It's going to keep us in your town longer,” Vadnis said. “We're just trying to get through and push through, make a couple of dollars to eat and go.”
If the ordinance revision passes, a violation would be considered a class two misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $95 fine.
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