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Aggressive panhandling and criminal conduct among Savannah’s homeless

Aggressive panhandling and criminal conduct among Savannah’s homeless

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Published by savannahnow.com

Savannah-Chatham Police Capt. Mike Wilkins comments on aggressive panhandling and criminal conduct among Savannah’s homeless.

Savannah-Chatham Police Capt. Mike Wilkins comments on aggressive panhandling and criminal conduct among Savannah’s homeless.

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Published by: savannahnow.com on Jan 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Savannah is attractive to the homeless. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with atemperate year-round climate, and three medical facilities (one with a dental facility) in the downtownarea. Bridges on either side of Downtown provide shelter and shade; numerous facilities feed andclothe those in need; and a generous network of homeless services all draw homeless individuals to thearea.These services and facilities are well known throughout the Southeast. Downtown Precinct Officershave encountered numerous individuals that claim law enforcement agencies and court systems havepurchased them one way tickets to Savannah. On a recent Friday, I encountered a female that claimed aSouth Carolina agency drove her here because she was drunk and disorderly.Downtown Precinct Officers perceive a growing number of homeless in town. They are straining theservices currently in place.We also see a rise in criminality associated with the homeless ranging from robbery to assaults, burglary,and thefts. Last week, a homicide involving a homeless female and a male suspect was reported. Chief Willie Lovett has challenged my precinct to address this growing concern sensitively, effectively andprofessionally.Being homeless makes the individual statistically more likely to be both a victim and a suspect of crime.Our officers respect and understand that many have been the victim of unfortunate circumstances andare attempting to return to a stable living situation. As police, we will protect their rights and supporttheir efforts.However, some have chosen to disregard the services offered and have turned to crime. We will notallow them to infringe on the rights of residents and visitors to the Downtown area. Beginningimmediately, Officers are directed to take a zero tolerance stance on crimes committed byhomeless. Previously Officers dealt with these issues as they presented themselves. Now I am askingOfficers to seek out and address these problems.I am also asking for your help. Specific actions can assist our efforts, assist the homeless, and improvethe quality of life Downtown for all.
Reports of Aggressive Panhandling have increased. Providing money to individualsthat aggressively panhandle reinforces the behavior and increases the likelihood thebehavior will continue. Many panhandle to support drug and alcohol habits. Donatingto a service organization instead, makes a broader impact and turns the aggressivepanhandler towards services more likely to help.
Use caution when dealing with someone you don’t know –
regardless of theirappearance. Avoid confrontation and contact police if necessary.
Some homeless have knocked on doors asking to perform small jobs (usually yardwork). This may seem to facilitate a return to employment. More often, this leads tothe individual returning repeatedly and just asking for money. There are organizations

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