Crime Tracker: SPD Cracks Down On Panhandling Downtown - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Crime Tracker: SPD Cracks Down On Panhandling Downtown

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SPOKANE, Wash. - People who work in Downtown Spokane say they can’t walk more than a couple of blocks without being asked by strangers for money, a cigarette or something else. The Spokane Police Department’s Downtown Precinct says that that’s why it’s enforcing its Code of Conduct and cracking down on the panhandling ordinance. It’s an effort to make the Downtown core a more welcome and inviting place.

SPD tells Crime Tracker Kalae Chock that it has issued several warnings to panhandlers and has made 3 arrests since it started its emphasis May 1st. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $1000. However, offenders also have the option to go through community court.

Community court is a pilot program for offenders who commit misdemeanors in the Downtown core or on East Sprague. It requires offenders do things like community service and it’s quicker and cheaper than the regular court system. Community court also provides wrap around services, including a health care component.

Ultimately, SPD says its just looking for compliance from offenders who receive panhandling warnings. It says the ultimate goal of the panhandling emphasis is to make the downtown area a more welcome place for everyone who visits.

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