I am often contacted about solicitors and panhandlers standing near highway exits or near our shopping centers, begging for money. Many of them have a sign detailing their dire need for your cash and others aggressively approach you as you go about your business throughout the Township. They hope that you will have pity, or fear of them, and will give them cash to go away. They know it is very difficult for good, decent people to turn their back on someone who appears to be in need. We all feel that twinge of guilt when we ignore them. Unfortunately, ignoring them is the only way we can stop this practice.
Police officers have very little authority under Ohio law to put an end to this. The little authority that we have allows us to issue a traffic citation, or arrest them for trespassing if they are on private property. The money earned by these panhandlers far exceeds the amount of the fine imposed by the court. There is no financial incentive for them to stop. In fact, one recently arrested panhandler told my officer that there was no way he was going to stop doing this and would be back soon. We will be back as well. There are many social service agencies that offer food and shelter to those truly in need. Our police officers have those resources available and will happily arrange for those needing help to get it. We have forged great partnerships throughout the County and can summon help for almost anyone. Another concern for the Police Department is that criminals use this practice as a way to rob people. Once they see your cash, they can either grab it, or cause you physical harm, to get it away from you. That has not occurred in Colerain Township, but it is not a rare occurrence elsewhere. Many of these individuals are wanted for other crimes and many are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The Police Department will continue to pro-actively engage this problem. Currently, we have undercover police officers dedicated to enforcing the law we have at our disposal and interrupting this behavior. Our goal is to identify and help those truly in need and eliminate those scamming and scheming to take your money because they are just too lazy to work. Please do not give money to anyone panhandling in the Township. This is our only way to curb this behavior. Please call the Colerain Police Department at 321-COPS and we will send an officer to see if they need our help.