New signs help police address panhandling issue

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — When you see someone on the side of the road asking for help, handing them money might seem like the right thing to do, but police say that isn’t always the case.

It isn’t unusual to find people asking for money along busy Sioux Falls streets. Police say the cash that’s collected is often used to feed addictions.

“The reality is when people are struggling with addiction, primarily alcohol, is that sometimes just bad behavior follows, it’s the nature of having too much to drink sometimes,” Chief of Sioux Falls Police Jonathan Thum said.

“We want to be helping the homeless in our community, but we also have to support our community neighbors as well as our business individuals because unfortunately they are the ones getting the impact of the garbage, the litter, the not so nice things in their yards. We just also have to respect them as well,” said Julie Becker, Executive Director of the St. Francis House.

The city has done a number of things to educate people about the issue of panhandling. These signs are the latest effort.

“It’s what we want more than anything is just, you know, we could do press briefings, we could do PR campaigns, but a fixed stationary sign is just one more thing that people kind of see and it reminds them ‘hey let’s put our money toward the local charities that do such a great job in helping people, and not use our money to feed some of the addiction issues that we see within the community,'” Thum said.

There are many other ways you can help the homeless community here in Sioux Falls.

“There are so many nonprofit agencies beside the St. Francis House that really are here to help the homeless in our community,” Becker said. “So, when you direct those support to us, then we are able to stretch that dollar so much further to be able to help so many more people.”

The city says they plan to keep evaluating the impact of the signs before they add more across town.

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