Pan­han­dling laws should be en­forced

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

In his Dec. 5 col­umn re­gard­ing the tragic death of Jacque­line Smith, Dan Rodricks said that “pan­han­dlers are ev­ery­where and al­most nowhere act vi­o­lently to those who give them money” (“Killing of woman help­ing pan­han­dler is an­other temp­ta­tion to lose faith in Bal­ti­more. Here’s how to keep it in­stead,” Dec. 4).

Years ago, as county ex­ec­u­tive, I led a suc­cess­ful ef­fort to pro­hibit pan­han­dling in Anne Arun­del County. While fa­tal­i­ties may be a rare oc­cur­rence, pan­han­dling is a pub­lic safety haz­ard at all times, some­times in­volv­ing ac­ci­dents and con­fronta­tions. Po­lice of­fi­cers, who are re­quired to en­force the law, have been trained to ad­vise home­less pan­han­dlers of avail­able so­cial ser­vices, while also in­form­ing them that their so­lic­i­ta­tion from high­way me­dian strips is il­le­gal. Where pan­han­dling is pro­hib­ited, the law should be en­forced.

John R. Leopold

The writer is a former Anne Arun­del County ex­ec­u­tive.

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