Turlock Police Chief: Don’t Give Money to Panhandlers

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Everyone's been there, sitting at the traffic light or walking into the store with that panhandler asking for money. That small feeling of guilt comes, as does the thought that “Giving this guy a dollar or two won’t hurt me.”

Then, of course, there is the panhandler who approaches with some excuse – the old “I ran out of gas” routine.

But more and more, people are getting fed up and annoyed. The panhandlers seem to be everywhere and there seems to be no escaping the odd confrontation during the walk from a car to the store entrance.

Coming soon, Turlock may just have a plan.

During Thursday's Coffee with the Chiefs meeting, Turlock Police Chief Robert Jackson says the Police Department is working with the Turlock Chamber of Commerce to introduce a new anti-aggressive panhandling ordinance to the city council in January.

Aggressive panhandling could include when the panhandler approaches someone physically or when they repeatedly ask for money.

Jackson says educational and marketing campaigns will be launched, known as “Make Your Change Count” and “No Means No.”

The idea of Make Your Change Count is that the money given to panhandlers can be better directed to organizations like homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation programs and housing services.

Jackson explained that during a recent meeting with officials from organizations like the Salvation Army, We Care Foundation, and the Turlock Gospel Mission, it was learned that some panhandlers have made as much as $1,000 a day and will openly brag about how the amount of drugs they can purchase.

“We have a wonderful town and people here are so giving and they want to help, but you’re not helping them,” Jackson said. “You're being an enabler and actually hurting them.

“I’m not saying there are no people down on their luck, but the vast majority of panhandlers have drug and alcohol addictions, and they are using the money to supply their addiction. People that give them money are being shamed.”

Of course, Jackson acknowledged that people may still give panhandlers money and that it is certainly not the government’s place to inhibit free speech or tell people who they can give money to.

In a further effort to divert money from the pockets of panhandlers, Jackson says the campaign may recruit volunteers to stand or sit directly next to panhandlers at intersections or freeway exits with signs reading something to the effect of “don’t help support their drug habit.” The volunteers may also pass out informational flyers.

Jackson says police can also increase enforcement of existing laws and use those to deter panhandlers with citations, or even misdemeanor charges given the circumstances.

Comments 20

  1. t says:

    That is what I want to volunteer for, holding a sign saying don’t give the druggie spare change.
    Then Al Sharpton will show up, they will sue me and I will be homeless…great idea.
    I never give them money but always offer to buy them something to eat.

  2. Turlockhatesthepoor says:

    Criminalize the poor. Spend money to make sure people give them less money,

  3. Sue Benavidez says:

    Perhaps we as citizens could contribute our money to these shelters and missions who clothe, feed and shelter the homeless and then make up some cards to the panhandlers telling them where they can get help. I spoke to a former homeless man who finally got a job and back on his feet. He told me that if you’re stuck in that position of homelessness, Turlock is the place to be. He said he got 2 good meals a day, a place to shower and clothes. Of course, these places need our donations but it would be better to give to them and direct the homeless there rather than give them money for drugs.

  4. Lori says:

    I work at a store and at night customers will call us and tell us they are afraid to get out of their cars because someone is near the front door asking for money or going right up to the car as they pull in. We have a policy that they can not panhandle on the store property and run them off. I know for fact that they will come in and buy alcohol with the money they get, you feel bad and want to help, but it’s not helping to give them money.

  5. areyoukiddingme? says:

    “Jackson acknowledged that people may still give panhandlers money and that it is certainly not the government’s place to inhibit free speech or tell people who they can give money to” – Yet they are going to have volunteers heckle would be givers and beggars alike. This is shameful! I work for my money and I give to whomever I chose. I don’t care what they use it for. I give money when I feel moved to do so, period. Bring on these “city hecklers.” I would love to give them a piece of my mind for trying to take away my choice.

  6. Mike says:

    There is so much wretchedness in the world, that we may safely take the word of any mortal professing to need our assistance; and, even should we be deceived, still the good to ourselves resulting from a kind act is worth more than the trifle by which we purchase it.

    NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

  7. Mike says:

    There is so much wretchedness in the world, that we may safely take the word of any mortal professing to need our assistance; and, even should we be deceived, still the good to ourselves resulting from a kind act is worth more than the trifle by which we purchase it.

    NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

  8. Fed-up says:

    That’s right we hate the poor, get your lazy poor butt out of Turlock!! Real people in need don’t stand on a corner with a sign!! I don’t need to give my hard earned money to anyone to make myself feel better about myself. I take care of my own kids and family. If you want to give someone money give to a legit charity please!!!

  9. FED UP with Fed up says:

    Very kind of you during this season to be so hateful towards those less fortunate. Hell is still hot this time of year.

  10. Richard says:

    As a parent of a lesbian who works and goes to collage I would rather give money to the panhandlers then an organization (salvation army) who are basically racist. They dont like gays, or bisexuals but would gladly take their donations. The panhandlers dont descriminate. Thank you proud parent of a lesbian.

  11. Maybe this could help says:

    A couple of years ago I started making “help bags” for people. The bags included things like: a travel toothbrush, tooth paste, floss, shampoo, conditioner, and soaps from hotels, nail files, band aids, combs, sunscreen, lip protectant, a stamped card in case they would like to let someone know they are okay, various snacks, a little change for a phone call (hopefully), a small bible and a note letting them know I prayed for the person I would be giving this to and will continue to pray for them now that I have met them. I keep the bags behind my driver’s seat, that way I can access them quickly and hand it to them from my car. I don’t know if it helps or not, but I would like to think so. I always try to think most of us are 6 months away from being homeless if we lose our jobs or suffer a tragedy. If not for the grace of God, there go I.

  12. Art says:

    Turlock..spreading the Christian spirit since 1908…

  13. Michelle G says:

    I am DEFINITELY tired of being harassed time and time again in every parking lot, at every freeway exit and at the entrance to every store by panhandlers. YES, I believe in giving and acknowledge that I am blessed and love to share it, BUT I give to legitimate causes and organizations in our community. If I have food, I will give that to someone instead when they ask for money. I had someone turn a fresh, whole sandwich down because “I don’t really like turkey, I’d rather just have money” after telling me he had diabetes and no money to eat. Beggars CAN be choosers? I ring the bell for the Salvation Army, donate my clothing to Society for Handicapped and participate in many opportunities with Turlock Rotary Club. This is how I choose to give. I would love to see some kind of ordinance to enforce panhandling so that I don’t get harassed everywhere I go. If I say “no,” it means “no,” it doesn’t mean to keep asking, to follow me or to wait for me outside of my car until I get out. I am glad the Chief sees the need to put this problem to bed. We have WONDERFUL community organizations, Turlock Gospel Mission, Turlock Together, Salvation Army, WeCare, United Samaritans, among others that need our help and financial support and put it to good use! Give to them instead.

  14. scott says:

    Don’t give these clowns any money, the old one that acts crippled in front of safeway parks his grey Honda accord in the safeway parking lot, at the end of the day ( his shift) he walks better the closer he gets to his car.One day he was slowly stuffing hundreds od dollars from his pocket to his pants as the police were pulling up, when the PD chases him off he goes to the hatch rd overpass in ceres and works that the rest of the day. As for the clowns working the Target shopping center, well theres four or five of them, we saw them the other day all get into a van at the end of the day and drive to each persons corner, one man yelled out the van to another on corner begging “you coming or not” at least they carpull. These target guys also have a red Honda car, they park it in the Target Customer paking area in front of the Shoe Store. I know some people think they are helping poor but guess what? YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED DUMMY! I am sick of these begging creeps, they have ruined it for the real people in need. As I think someone else said if you got to give please give it to a legitiment shelter or something, trust me peole in need of help know where to go.

  15. s says:

    I saw the “crippled” guy run across Countryside one day when he saw the bus coming, quite the actor.
    Maybe Corbin Bersen can use him in his next movie.

  16. Scam says:

    I know someone who knows and lives by the “crippled” guy and says there is nothing wrong with him, he drives a nice car and lives in a decent house and makes more money then most. You can give but please be smart about it and don’t give to a panhandler!! 99% of the time they are fakes, drug addicts and just plain bad people.

  17. Vanetza says:

    I’m concerned. Is the “crippled” guy at Safeway the same one that’s at the Monte Vista exit?

  18. Guest says:

    I am fed up with the panhandlers as well. Whether they are truly in need or not, in my experience they have no respect for personal boundaries. Grocery shopping at Safeway on 2 separate occasions with my toddler they approached me while I was about to open my door to get daughter in the car. I actually had to yell at them to step away from my car and go to the other end of the parking lot because I am trying to put my child and my groceries in the car and maybe after I do that then I might want to hear what they have to say. They should NEVER approach a woman with her child in the parking lot regardless of if they are homeless and starving. That is the most threatening thing you can do to a mother. It makes me not want to shop at Safeway anymore. Please enforce something on these bums so I can feel safe shopping again with my child!

  19. James says:

    Is Corbin Bersen 6 months from being homlesss?

  20. Art says:

    He got a check from ChristainMingle.com. He’s good for at least another year.

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