Sioux Falls’ panhandling problem

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls police are asking people to think twice before handing cash over to panhandlers.

But those holding the signs asking for money say they aren’t hurting anyone.

“Just trying to get any help I can get,” said Roy Warren from Sioux Falls.

Roy Warren waves at everybody driving by the east side Walmart parking lot.

“God Bless,” said Warren.

Warren will take a donation, but says he’s not a panhandler.

“A panhandler is when you go up and ask people for money. I’m not doing that. My sign (God Bless-Anything helps) speaks for itself, if people want to give, that’s their heart, between them and God. Have a blessed day,” said Warren.

But whatever you call it, police say it’s on the rise along with the temperature.

“As the weather is warming up, we’re seeing an increase in people who are out panhandling again. It can be dangerous and it can be illegal, specifically on the major intersections where people are panhandling. They’re fine to stand there but as soon as they step off the curb and go approach a vehicle in traffic, they are now breaking the law,” said Lt. Adam Petersen with the Sioux Falls Police Department.

Petersen says people can ask for money in public places, but no means no.

“Aggressive panhandling is also illegal. If somebody asks for money or some other item and you tell them no and they continue to harass you for money, please, give us a call immediately,” said Petersen.

“Sometime, they’ll give you a dollar, sometimes they’ll give you a twenty, you just never know,” said Warren.

Warren says he’s out of work due to Covid and uses his money to pay bills and survive.

“On a good day you can make maybe a hundred, a hundred and twenty five, on a good day. It depends on the weather and the day and the people. Mainly the people,” said Warren.

But police say you should think about donating to places like the Bishop Dudley House, the St. Francis House or The Banquet instead.

“The best thing we can do is to not provide money to support the substance abuses that is going to. Our department sees that first hand on a regular basis where they take the money and they’ll use it to buy alcohol or drugs. Please do not be giving money to the panhandlers,” said Petersen.

“Everybody needs help, not just people standing with a sign, everybody in the United States needs help. One way or another, pray for everybody,” said Warren.

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