Residents Fed Up with Panhandlers, Police Say It's Legal

2 years 3 months 2 days ago November 09, 2013 Nov 9, 2013 Saturday, November 09 2013 Saturday, November 09, 2013 10:08:00 PM CST in News
By: Kelsey Kerwin, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Some downtown residents are fed up with the constant panhandling from Columbia's unsheltered homeless population, but police said those being harassed need to step up and file complaints to help fix the problem.

 Allyson Schwartz used to live downtown in an apartment complex, and said the homeless people made her feel unsafe.

 "Different people would sit outside my apartment complex everyday and ask me for money and it just got worse and worse," Schwartz said. "One day I came home and a guy was peeing in front of my door on the second floor."

 She said she thought the number of homeless people downtown increased over the year she lived there and that she decided to move because of them.

 "I was paying top dollar to live there and never felt safe," Schwartz said. "I was asked for money everyday and I feel bad, but I don't have extra money to hand out. I finally just decided to move this year."

 Schwartz said she thinks the police should do more to move along the homeless people who congregate in the same places every day.

 "I know the police officers are downtown every day so it just makes you wonder why they don't notice these people in the same place everyday and ask them to move along, " Schwartz said.

 Jason McClintic is a downtown unit officer for the Columbia Police Department and said panhandling itself is not against the law unless it is aggressive or too close to ATMs, banks, or business entrances.

 "Panhandling is not illegal," McClintic said. "Aggressive panhandling is illegal and that's kind of subjective."

 McClintic said officers will arrest the homeless if they're destructing property or trashing areas but said it's hard to arrest them for aggressive panhandling unless the victims file and pursue a complaint.

 "We need cooperation from those being bothered," McClintic said. "If they feel their peace is disturbed enough that they want to take it to court, that's where the arrest comes in."

 McClintic said he advises anyone who feels like the panhandling is aggressive or uncomfortable to contact the police.

 Cyndy Chapman is a Regional Director for Development for the Salvation Army and said the most recent figures of unsheltered homeless people in Boone County are from 2012 and show an increase.

 "The latest figures that have been released show in January of 2012 they found 50 unsheltered homeless people and in July on 2012 there was a little over 100," Chapman said.

 She said Harbor House and other homeless shelters have rules forbidding their residents from panhandling.

 "If you're a shelter resident and you're found to be panhandling, you must leave," Chapman said.

 Chapman said some of the unsheltered homeless people either couldn't or don't want to follow the rules of homeless shelters or prefer to live on the streets.

 "Some of them choose to be unsheltered because they tell us they don't want to follow the rules of the facility and some just like to be able to be free and do whatever they want to," Chapman said.

Residents of Harbor House must follow rules such as a 10 p.m. curfew, not starting fights, visiting your case manager regularly, actively looking for a job, doing community service hours if they cannot work and must remain sober.

Harbor House is currently full but refers anyone needing assistance to other area shelters.

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY - Living conditions in one public housing complex have a mother too worried to sleep through the night.... More >>
6 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:53:00 PM CST in Target 8
COLUMBIA – Veterans across the state could have a place to go to receive live-in care. The Missouri House... More >>
8 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 7:17:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY – A Missouri House committee passed a bill Thursday to help those who are deaf or blind gain... More >>
8 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 6:55:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis fire crews rescued two young boys from a burning apartment where officials said they... More >>
9 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 6:42:15 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Legislation requiring a private company to review Missouri's welfare rolls is moving forward in the Legislature.... More >>
9 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 6:27:10 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri's top two elected officials credited Ferguson on Thursday with pressing ahead with policing and court... More >>
9 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 5:48:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Normally, the lake behind Bass Pro Shop in north Columbia is used for fishing. But on Thursday,... More >>
9 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 5:46:00 PM CST in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A 35-year-old Crips street gang member has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for... More >>
10 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 5:17:25 PM CST in News
IRONTON (AP) — Authorities say a 3-year-old Missouri boy who was found dead hours after he was reported missing likely... More >>
10 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 5:11:51 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A man and his dog are safe after venturing out onto a frozen lake. The man reportedly... More >>
10 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 5:08:00 PM CST in Top Stories
CAMDEN COUNTY - Camden County Sheriff's deputies arrested a Sunrise Beach man on drug charges after a traffic stop Thursday.... More >>
11 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 4:28:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A New Haven man was indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to entice a minor... More >>
11 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 4:03:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are considering several measures to combat what they call a heroin epidemic. ... More >>
12 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 2:57:16 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Two Missouri lawmakers introduced new legislation that would give working families paid leave Thursday. Sen. Jill... More >>
12 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 2:57:00 PM CST in Top Stories
MORGAN COUNTY - A man wanted by multiple law enforcement agencies on kidnapping charge is now in custody as of... More >>
13 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 2:31:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri lawmakers voted to give themselves more control over the Capitol's renovations and security. The... More >>
14 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 1:36:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - When shopping for your valentine, it is important to ask if the diamond is man-made or synthetic. ... More >>
15 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:18:00 PM CST in Top Stories
VERSAILLES (AP) — A Missouri state trooper will be scheduled for a jury trial now that he has waived his... More >>
15 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:17:00 PM CST in News
Interactive Radar Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 26°
4am 26°
5am 26°
6am 25°
7am 25°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

3:07 am
Mad Money
4:00 am
Early Today
4:30 am
KOMU 8 News Today
3:30 am
Paid Program
4:00 am
Paid Program
4:30 am
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00 pm
Caught On Camera with Nick Cannon
8:00 pm
Grimm
9:00 pm
Dateline NBC
7:00 pm
The Vampire Diaries
8:00 pm
The Originals
9:00 pm
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30 pm
Seinfeld