KENNEWICK, Wash. - Over the weekend, police arrested four people who were panhandling near busy intersections in Kennewick. Panhandling is not illegal, but police say there are strict rules involved to ensure everyone's safety.
Driving through the Kennewick Starbucks at the corner of Clearwater and 395, a man who typically stood on the corner with a sign was visibly absent Monday. That is because police arrested him while panhandling on Friday.
"While they're putting one person into a car another person walks up to that corner and begins doing the exact same thing, actually when the arrest was made a third person walked up to the same location and started to do that and was warned by the officer," said Mike Blatman, Kennewick Police Department.
Blatman says four were charged over the weekend for disorderly conduct because while panhandling is legal, the way they did it was not.
"You can't walk out into the street when you're pan-handling and that's what these folks were doing, they were walking out into the street in between cars, they impede traffic," Blatman said.
Brian Haisch is also homeless and volunteers at the Therapeutic Innovations and Recovery Center, a day shelter on Clearwater Avenue.
"I was really mad because cops shouldn't be messing with people that are just barely stepping off the street," he said.
Haisch says he believes police are targeting the homeless just to get them off the streets.
"We're not actively running around looking for people that are walking in and out of the streets but we do get complaints," Blatman said.
Blatman says this is completely different than the people who sell Krispy Kreme Donuts and kettle corn, also off Clearwater.
"They're showing people where to pull off on the side streets into the parking lot and make their purchase," Blatman said.