DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – Concerns over panhandlers has one area community taking another look at its policies. Davenport city leaders discussed the issue Tuesday after hearing some complaints from residents. Some say they’ve noticed an increase in panhandlers. Davenport has a longstanding ordinance that sets some limits on the activity but some are asking for a review of that, and if there are changes that could be made to make it safer.
53-year-old Jay Harkey is currently homeless and has been spending his days at the corner of 53rd and Brady with a sign asking for help.
“People are very, very helpful when it comes to a vet in Davenport. Very, very helpful,” said Harkey.
“The question really comes down to the walking up to cars and walking through traffic. It becomes a safety issue,” said Alderman Rita Rawson.
In the city ordinance, standing in the median is not allowed, nor is interacting with someone in a vehicle that’s not legally parked or panhandlers face a citation. Police Chief Paul Sikorski says the panhandling rules are difficult to enforce and time-consuming.
“Generally speaking they try to move them along, give them a ride to a safer place. Even if they are at a corner where they can be we try to get them to a safer place,” said Sikorski.
Many city leaders agree that the concerns of safety are valid, but they’re trying to approach the issue with caution.
One suggestion was to prohibit panhandling where there’s not legal parking within 100 feet of an intersection. Davenport’s city attorney is going to work with police to review the whole process then make recommendations for any changes to council in the near future.