Aggressive Panhandling In Ithaca

Aggressive Panhandling Problem In Ithaca

ITHACA (WENY) -- If you've ever been to Ithaca, you may have noticed a few panhandlers on the streets.
     Ithaca Police say panhandling is an issue throughout the city, whether it's in the commons or at the strip mall.
     Asking for money and holding signs is not a crime but when it's aggressive, that's when it becomes an issue.
     "When someone asks for money and they are rebuffed and they continue to ask, or they block your path on the side walk or block your path as your crossing the street, that's where it starts to get aggressive and that's where we have a problem with that," said Ithaca Police Officer Jamie Williamson.
     Police say they've received complaints of Panhandlers trying to block people from catching the bus and even  cornering them at ATMs. 
     "We don't want our residents, we don't want our visitors and people who work here to experience this to have to feel uncomfortable," said Officer Williamson.
     IPD says they have reason to believe some of the city's panhandlers are working together which is drawing great concern from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. 
     Now those community workers are calling on city officials to take a closer look at the current panhandling laws and restrictions to define how far someone who is soliciting should be from ATMs, and business entrances.
     "By putting those definitions in place, we think it's going to be easier for the public, the people who are actually soliciting and for the police department to better know and regulate," said Gary Ferguson, Downtown Ithaca Alliance.
     There are some who are not bothered by it and think something should be done to help those on the street.
     "I'm not a policy maker so it's hard for me to do something like that but compassion would be helpful," said Ithaca tourist, Kevin Brady.
     The downtown Ithaca Alliance along with city councilman are working together to better define exactly what aggressive panhandling is so they can further address the issue.