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Folsom Residents Take to Social Media to Vent About Area Panhandlers

Feb 12, 2015 11:59AM ● Published by Steven Jack

Panhandlers can often be seen in the parking lot of this Trader Joe's on Bidwell Street in Folsom.

Drive up to Trader Joe's in Folsom, and you’re sure to notice one or two people in the area asking strangers for money. 

Some people call them beggars, while others prefer panhandler. However you refer to them, they have recently caught the attention of many local residents who have turned to social media to vent.

After panhandler sighting posts on the Folsom Watch Facebook page began to spur online arguments between residents, the conversation was moved to a new page — Panhandler Alert Folsom.

“We sometimes receive complaints of panhandlers at various locations throughout the city,” said Folsom Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Bates. “While I wouldn't say this is a big problem, this behavior often generates calls from citizens.”

Residents posting on social media have complained that often times local panhandlers have scared them or their children while aggressively asking for money in public shopping areas. Bates urged residents to call police if they feel threatened or intimidated by aggressive panhandlers.

Defining what’s legal in terms of panhandling is an issue that’s been argued in courts across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Local communities, including Roseville, in recent years have loosened restrictions on panhandling after California’s Ninth Circuit Court ruled in 2012 banning roadside panhandling was a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

“In handling these types of calls, we have to carefully balance a person's First Amendment right to free speech with other people's right to free movement,” he said. “Court decisions have limited enforcement action to situations where a panhandler is aggressive or blocks someone's path.”

Bates said he is also aware of complaints from residents who believe that some Folsom panhandlers may not even need the money for which they are asking.

“The best way to address this concern is to refer panhandlers to local charities and to donate directly to those charities,” he said. “This ensures your donation goes toward the necessities of life for that person in need.”

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