PAWTUCKET — Whether its a gaggle of young dancers or gymnasts with money jars or a lone jobless person with a cardboard sign, the act of begging for cash from motorists at stoplights and busy intersections is one that has drawn the ire and concern of residents and city officials alike.
Putting public safety at the forefront of its decision, the City Council on Wednesday night voted to have Police Chief Paul King begin enforcing an existing city ordinance that prohibits people from soliciting money from drivers at intersections.
That enforcement could technically result in a disorderly conduct charge where, if found guilty, a person could face imprisonment of up to 30 days or a potential fine of $50 to $500.
However, King told The Times that he will be instructing officers to issue warnings to the organizations and doesn't anticipate any disorderly conduct charges to be imposed unless there are repeat offenders. Even then, any violation would be issued only to the adults involved in the organization and not the children. “We're not looking to lock anybody up over this. I told the officers to issue a first warning and if necessary, a second warning, and hopefully they will get the message,” he said.
King added that it is legal for organizations and groups to solicit funds on private property, as long as they obtain permission from the owner. “These solicitations just can't take place in the streets,” he said.
--Read the full story in Friday's newspaper.