Homelessness, panhandling an increasing problem Metro-wide, police say

Jim Cunningham
May 09, 2018 - 5:47 am

Law enforcement agencies around the Kansas City area are dealing with what they say is a growing problem; homeless people who want more than a handout.

There are plenty of people who truly are in need and believe they have no choice but to beg for money on a street corner, but there are those who try to scam people out of their money. 

A lot of panhandlers do not want real jobs, said William Keeney, a community interaction officer with the Kansas City Police Department.

"I actually stopped one individual who had over $800 in his pocket, and he stated he got that from people who gave that money to him," Keeney said. "He said to me, go ahead, give me tickets, it's okay. It's actually cheaper for me to pay the ticket and to keep living this way, because it's tax-free."

The KCPD is working on an initiative to give a hand to people who want some help.

"The key thing is getting resources to people that are in crisis, people who do not have internal or external resources anymore to be able to take care of themselves," Keeney said.

It is better to give money to an agency that serves the homeless than to hand cash to a panhandler, Keeney said. The Salvation Army is spearheading a committee involving several non-profits to deal with panhandling and homelessness.

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