Orlando police crack down on aggressive panhandlers

Ordinance prevents panhandling in certain areas

ORLANDO, Fla. – It's been more than three months since the Orlando officials implemented a new ordinance that gives panhandlers more freedom on where they can ask for money but also establishes tougher consequences if they do so in the streets.

News 6 spoke to Orlando Police Chief John Mina on Friday, who said that it's too early to tell if the new ordinance is working as intended.

"I know there are still people out there that are violating the law," Mina said. "We know it's happening and certain areas are worse than others so we are trying to target those certain behaviors to correct the behavior.”

On Tuesday, News 6 saw Orlando police officers at the same intersection where a panhandler said he knows he's breaking the law but continues to do it anyway because that's where he makes the most money.

“I know it's illegal. I have been in jail a couple of times because of it," Julio Gonzales said. "Remember, I told you I got to eat.”

Officers on Tuesday stopped to talk to panhandlers in the median of Colonial Drive near the Interstate 4 exit, where Gonzales was seen on Friday darting in and out of the road to solicit money.

The new ordinance, enacted in July, prevents panhandling in the road, near ATMs, outside restaurants or in any other area where it could be considered aggressive.

Mina said panhandling is a societal issue that's difficult to fix, but he hopes the new ordinance will make it safer for the homeless population and motorists.

"We know people have been soliciting for money since the beginning of time, so that's going to continue. We just hope this ordinance will stop those aggressive panhandlers and people being unsafe in the roadways,” Mina said.

Still, he said officers are already cracking down and doing specific details to curb dangerous panhandling.