- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Police say aggressive panhandlers have been a growing problem in Omaha, and officials now want a more stringent city ordinance to address the matter.

A current city ordinance says anyone who wants to solicit money, other than a religious organization or a charity, must obtain written permission from the police chief, the Omaha World-Herald reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/1NKdOt4 ).

“I’ve been here 29 years,” Deputy Police Chief Dave Baker told the newspaper, “and I’m not aware of any panhandler who sent a letter to chief.”

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has asked the City Council to consider an ordinance that would prohibit specific actions by people asking for money. Such actions would include soliciting money near an ATM, repeating requests for money, asking for money from someone who is stopped in traffic or touching someone while panhandling.

Baker said former city prosecutor David Smalheiser started working on the proposal earlier this year. When Smalheiser retired, the police department inherited the issue.

Police have seen an uptick in panhandling, particularly in people asking for money near cars, Baker said.

“When people are stopped at these intersections, there’s not much they can do,” he said. “They’re more or less a captive audience.”

A public hearing is scheduled for later this month.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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