KANSAS CITY, Mo. - More people are calling the Kansas City Police Department complaining panhandlers are getting aggressive. Now, officers are stepping in and issuing citations.
"We get complaints that a motorist isn't willing to give money. And the panhandlers will stand in front of vehicles and actually even beat on the cars if they're not willing to give," KCPD Master Patrol Officer James Schriever said.
There's another reason KCPD is making more arrests: officers know many panhandlers are homeless.
Once they're done asking for money, police said many panhandlers will go home to any number of outdoor spots to sleep through the night.
Schriever said many panhandlers will end their day in outdoor homeless camps across the city. Police are not only issuing citations, but fencing off homeless camps to try to cut off access.
The efforts by the police department in the last year have decreased the homeless population, so why the sudden rise in aggressive panhandling?
"The mental health budgets have been cut…the services that were once there are no longer there," Schriever said.
Many state supreme courts have ruled peaceful panhandling laws are unconstitutional.
Two years ago, police became aware of websites that named Kansas City as one of the friendliest places to the homeless. But the population has grown and now enforcement is bringing that down making homeless people either move onto other cities or seek the help they need.