City Of Lansing In Talks Of Decriminalizing Panhandling
If you've ever been driving around in more populated "city" areas anywhere you probably have experienced panhandling...and it's typically a pretty awkward interaction.
The thing about panhandling is that usually, of course with some outliers, the people doing it would rather not be in that situation either.
While it is a situation nobody wants to find themselves in, panhandling in public has also been a crime for quite some time now but according to WILX News 10, that could be changing soon.
As of right now, Lansing City Councilman Brian Jackson told WILX, "If a police officer wanted to they could use their discretion and either cite somebody for a misdemeanor or arrest them."
However, while public panhandling could be a misdemeanor, Jackson did also say this ordinance is not really enforced by Lansing Police. The ban on "begging" also was deemed unconstitutional.
While Jackson does reiterate "It’s just unfair to people in general because people don’t necessarily want to be in that position to ask people for money or to beg for different things for their livelihood" he does reassure concerned business owners the repeal would not excuse people who get too aggressive (harassment, assault, disorderly conduct, etc.).
When it comes to better ways than just sending the police to deal with panhandlers, WILX reports City Council President Peter Spadafore said, "“Strengthening unemployment, the social safety net, those types of things, helping people find jobs or housing and things like that, that the good stuff that government can do.”
Nothing has been officially decided yet as far as repealing the city ordinance (along with seven others), though, and if you would like to make your voice heard on the matter WILX says there will be a public hearing on April 12th.
With these changes coming to Lansing, let's see how much has changed over an even longer period of time: