DAYTON — The city’s stronger new panhandling/soliciting ordinance, which took effect July 22, is already having a visible effect, according to Dayton police and businesses.
Dayton Police Major Larry Faulkner said the department made 24 panhandling arrests in the first three weeks since the ordinance took effect, after averaging 62 citations per month in the first half of the year.
“It’s significantly better than it was,” Faulkner said.
The new ordinance still allows panhandling by those who hold permits, but cracks down on people who hold signs asking for money along city streets.
Some intersections that had been gathering spots for numerous beggars — Wayne Avenue and Keowee Street, as well as the I-75 exit ramp at Edwin Moses Boulevard — have been largely empty in recent days.
“The worst was Wayne and Keowee, and that’s completely done; we just don’t see them there now,” Dayton police officer Tim Zimmer said.
Workers at the Sunoco station at that corner agreed, as did Karl Williamson, owner of the Urban Krag Climbing Center in the Oregon District.
“The city proved me wrong,” said Williamson, who pushed City Commission to address the issue. “I didn’t think this plan would work and it has. ... Some panhandlers are still around, but they’re not on the street corners with signs.”
Zimmer acknowledged beggars might just try to find other spots — inside or outside Dayton.
Fairborn Police Capt. Terry Bennington said beggars holding signs have begun appearing sporadically the past two months at the ramp from I-675 to Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.
Bennington said Fairborn may look into a panhandling ordinance, but for now can only cite the sign-holders if they disrupt traffic.
Some might expect Dayton’s crackdown to push some panhandlers into local shelters, but Tina Patterson, executive director of Homefull, which works to end homelessness in the Dayton area, said her group has not seen any increase in requests for service in recent weeks.
Patterson said that supports her theory that there’s no direct correlation between homelessness and panhandling, with some beggars simply making a choice to make money that way.
Faulkner and Zimmer said many of the beggars in Dayton were very aware of the new ordinance. Faulkner said one day last month, he warned a beggar that he wouldn’t be able to hold his sign asking for money anymore, only to have the man cite the exact number of days he had left until the ordinance took effect.
“They knew exactly what was going on,” Zimmer said.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2278 or jkelley@DaytonDailyNews.com.