Arlington, VA

Money (file photo)The Arlington County Police Department is urging motorists to stop giving money to roadside panhandlers, suggesting that many may not be as needy as they claim to be.

In a press release Sept. 3, which was published on the county website but apparently not sent to news outlets, ACPD said that residents “should avoid giving panhandlers money directly.”

“There’s no telling what the cash will be used for,” said an ACPD captain, referring specifically to those to beg for money on traffic medians. “Officers have even seen those who appear to be indigent drive off in their own cars after working an intersection.”

The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, which helps the homeless, has echoed the police department’s anti-roadside-panhandling call.

“Most panhandlers are not homeless, and most homeless are not panhandlers,” Kathy Sibert, CEO of A-SPAN, told the Arlington Connection newspaper earlier this summer.

Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey, who first dug up the police press release, points out that many roadside panhandlers seem to be part of a coordinated group.

“It’s pretty clear most of the panhandling in A-town is coordinated in teams,” McCaffrey wrote on his blog. “I once even asked Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy whether she’d be trying to collect business-license fees, it’s so coordinated.”

Two years ago, 88 percent of respondents to an ARLnow poll said that police should be more aggressive with roadside panhandlers. However, police say the beggars are within their constitutional rights.

Police recommend that those who wish to make a positive difference in the lives of the less fortunate instead donate to groups like A-SPAN or the Arlington Food Assistance Network (AFAC).

The full ACPD press release, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

Goldfinch in stream near Long Branch Nature Center (Flickr pool photo by airamangel)

County to Seek Ballston Mall Partnership — Arlington County is moving quickly to try to come up with a public-private partnership for the redevelopment of Ballston Common Mall. County Board members said Tuesday that they believe the redevelopment will bring important economic benefits. “To not reinvest is to watch the death, I think, of Ballston,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. [InsideNova, Arlington County]

Crash Near Kenmore Middle School — A five-vehicle crash occurred around 5:30 yesterday evening on S. Carlin Springs Road, just south of Kenmore Middle School. Scanner reports suggest a driver mistook the gas pedal for the brake at an intersection, leading to the multi-vehicle wreck. [Twitter]

Playground Contracts Awarded — The Arlington County Board has voted unanimously to award two contracts, together worth about $2 million, for new playgrounds at Long Bridge Park and Tyrol Hills Park. Construction on both is expected to begin later this summer and will take about four months. [Arlington County]

Panhandlers Stake Out Turf in Arlington — There’s “an ongoing turf war” among panhandlers in Arlington County, who seek to hold certain lucrative, traffic-laden roadsides and medians. The “war” has resulted in the occasional fist fight and accusations that rival panhandlers are making up their sob stories, which often revolve around being a veteran or losing a home. [Falls Church News-Press]

Free Chips and Guac at Cal Tor Today — California Tortilla locations, including the eatery in Courthouse, are offering free chips and guacamole to customers today. A purchase is required. [California Tortilla]

Flickr pool photo by airamangel

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In Arlington, roadway panhandlers “have upped the ante and no longer are content to just stand in medians, but of late have been found walking in between lanes of traffic while vehicles are stopped.”

That’s according to the Sun Gazette, in the its weekly Highs and Lows column. The paper gave Arlington County a “thumbs down” for not dealing with the issue.

“What next?” the Sun Gazette asked. “Will we have people with squeegies demanding cash in exchange for washing windows?”

Do you think that Arlington County police should be more aggressive in dealing with those asking for cash on the side (or the middle) of the road?
 

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