Panhandling down in Henrico on Day One of ordinance

Posted at 6:23 PM, Oct 24, 2012

Henrico, VA (WTVR) — One day after the Henrico County Board of Supervisors approved a new ordinance banning solicitation from street medians, panhandling was down across the county. 

“We have made five encounters today, three along Burke Road, one on Broad Street, and one near Regency Square,” Lt. Eric Owens of the Henrico Police Department told CBS 6.

Owens says his department has been approaching the new regulations with a “compassion first” mentality.

Owens reports that his officers first warn individuals about the new law prohibiting sitting or standing in street medians. Only after multiple warnings is an individual arrested.

“If that person continues with that act – in other words – goes right back to the intersection – not only will he be issued the summons but he can be taken into custody and go before a magistrate,” Lt. Owens says.

Henrico police say they also give free taxi cab rides to any panhandler in need of substance abuse treatment if they go to county facilities.

Richmond residents though worry that Henrico panhandlers will venture into the city – where panhandling in street medians is legal.

Councilman Charles Samuels tells CBS 6 that the Richmond City Council will review their laws in the wake of the Henrico ordinance.

“I think this is a great opportunity to look at our codes to see what we can do to change it – make it responsive to the needs of the community,” Samuels said.