In early May Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan and Police Chief Mark Mew announced a campaign against illegal panhandling at city intersections. This week Chief Mew described how the municipality’s enforcement effort was going.
Panhandling itself is not illegal. As the Anchorage Assembly discovered when years ago it sought a to create a law limiting the practice, panhandling is protected by the constitution under freedom of speech.
So then Assembly Member Dan Sullivan successfully proposed a traffic safety law, which made it illegal in Anchorage for a panhandler to step off the curb and into the street to collect money as well as for a motorist to offer it.
At this week’s mayor’s press conference, Police Chief Mew said for a few days after the announcement, officers issued warning cards whenever they spotted illegal panhandling.
Then the enforcement stage began. But so far, says the chief, nobody’s gotten a ticket.
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