DETROIT (WWJ) – Several Michigan cities have enacted laws on dealing with panhandlers and now, Detroit will be on the list.
WWJ Newsradio 950′s Rob Sanford reports the new ordinance, which takes effect next month, puts restrictions on what a person can and can’t do when asking for money.
The Detroit City Council approved the law last month after a request from the Police Department.
The law is the first regarding begging since 1998, and is meant to prevent panhandlers from becoming aggressive toward passersby. Penalties can include fines or jail time.
City Attorney Tanya Long said the ordinance doesn’t prohibit begging, but forbids it in certain areas.
“They’re enumerated specifically as part of the ordinance, and include places like waiting in line, food establishments, ATMs, bus and train stations,” she said. “(They’re places) where a person is held really to be in one location and can’t move.”
The upgraded law is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which last year sued over a longstanding statewide law that prohibits begging. A judge’s ruling is pending.
ACLU staff attorney Dan Korobkin told The Detroit News that the city should be commended for improving their code to protect constitutional rights.