News and Tribune

Recent Local News

November 18, 2013

Clarksville adopts panhandling ordinance

Addresses ‘aggressive’ panhandling, begging near banks and ATMs

CLARKSVILLE — The holiday season is again upon us, and with it comes an increase in the chances that outside forces will attempt to convince you to give up your hard-earned cash. And it doesn’t begin at the entrance to the store.

The Clarksville Town Council is trying to put a stop to unwelcome requests for charity. It voted unanimously Monday to adopt a new ordinance designed to curtail aggressive panhandling, which is something that seems to be on the rise in parking lots outside of big-box stores in the town, said Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer.

“Aggressive panhandling targets more people that are coming to the parking lot, or approaching you and your wife as you’re getting out of the car,” Palmer explained. “They basically have you backed into a corner asking you for money, and it’s kind of putting you in a compromising situation. That’s what we’re looking at, the aggressive, where you’re actually feeling intimidated.”

The ordinance also creates areas where panhandling is expressly forbidden, such as at bus stops and within 15 feet of a bank entrance or an ATM, Town Attorney Chris Sturgeon said.

“The whole idea behind the 15 feet is so people can do their private transactions without feeling intimidated or threatened in any way,” Sturgeon said.

The ordinance does not allow for jail time as a punishment for violating the new ordinance, but violators can be fined, Sturgeon said.

“We’re hoping to deter this type of behavior,” Sturgeon said. “If [violators] get cited enough times, hopefully they’ll stop and kind of leave people alone.”

The ordinance makes exceptions for the town’s police and fire departments to allow them to continue to collect money for charitable causes they sponsor, but does not include a provision for permits for others. However, private business owners have the option to allow groups to solicit donations on their property, provided the groups are given written permission, Sturgeon said.

“Say Walmart wants to have some group out there to ask for donations,” Sturgeon said. “That’s allowable under this ordinance, as long as they have written permission from Walmart.”

The holiday season usually includes an increase in panhandling activity, Sturgeon said, which is why the council decided to act now.

“It’s getting close to the holidays, and that activity typically ticks up during the holidays,” Sturgeon said.

In addition to the holiday season, the town needs to protect itself from elements that may be attracted there by the Ohio River Bridges Project, said Councilman Tim Hauber, who made the motion to pass the ordinance. Hauber described the ordinance as “long overdue.”  

“In regards to the situation with the bridges project and a lot of people moving around in the area, we just want to be proactive and make sure that Clarksville’s a booming economic area,” Hauber said. “And there’s a lot of opportunities out there, and panhandling’s one of the things that’s on the rise.”


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Recent Local News
2013 Photos of the year

Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
2013 Photos of the year

Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.