SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Drive around Sioux Falls and you may notice panhandlers on the sides of the road or at busy intersections. Sioux Falls Police say it’s something they’re getting a lot more calls about this year.
Roy Warren says you’ll often find him standing near the Culver’s on Louise Avenue. When we talked to him, he’d been in front of the Sioux Falls restaurant for three hours.
“Like my sign says ‘God bless, anything helps,’ whatever it, it doesn’t matter, if you give that’s fine, if you don’t that’s ok too,” Roy Warren said.
Sioux Falls Police say what Warren is doing is not illegal. But in some situations, panhandling can be against the law.
“Soliciting money or goods on private property without permission, stepping into traffic to accept money or goods, walking around in traffic soliciting money or goods, and there is a motorist aspect of it, if they hold up traffic while providing the act of money or goods to the person,” Sioux Falls Police Dept., Lt. Nick Cook said.
Cook says the department has received more than 530 panhandling calls… and that’s just since April.
“Whether they were 911 or officer initiated for the problems at those intersections, directly related to disorderly conduct violations, other disturbances, not related to accidents,” Cook said.
You’re asked to call police if you witness certain crimes or issues with panhandlers so the police department can address it.
As for Warren, he says all he wants to do is support his family.
“Until I can find a job, I am hoping a contractor or somebody else will feel good enough to hire a man, you never know,” Warren said.
Cook says they have been seeing alcohol abuse related to panhandling, where people accept money and then purchase alcohol afterwards. He says if people are wanting to give, they are asked to donate to organizations in town that already help people in these types of situations.