Panhandlers have some residents worried about safety

(Source: Eric Pointer/ KSLA News 12)
(Source: Eric Pointer/ KSLA News 12)

BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Some Bossier City residents are concerned about what appears to be an increase in panhandling in their areas of the city.

Anyone who recently has driven down Airline Drive might have noticed not just the traffic but also the panhandlers. They stand on busy intersections, hold signs and ask for money.

Keyoka Allen said she's been frustrated with panhandlers asking for money when she's tried to buy them food.

"Why do you get offended when a person refuses to give you money and they would rather buy you food?"

She said she's seen a growing number of panhandlers throughout Bossier City, including Barksdale Boulevard near where she works.

"We all work hard for our money, and there is nothing wrong with helping your fellow man. But sometimes there is a concern with the instances of 'What are you doing with that money?'"

She said she's not passing judgment, but she thinks there has to be an alternative to panhandling.

"We don't necessarily know their situation that caused them to be there. But if you can write out that sign, you can fill out a job application."

Bossier City police say standing on a busy intersection with signs isn't illegal.

What is illegal, authorities say, is when the people doing so start blocking or impeding traffic.

"Specifically, obstruction of public passages," Bossier City spokesman Mark Natale said. "If they're getting out in the roadway and traffic is stopping and they're stopping traffic to solicit money, then that's an obvious charge."

But panhandling is illegal in Shreveport.

Allen thinks that drives more panhandler traffic across Red River into Bossier City.

"If you can't do it in Shreveport, I feel like Bossier needs to step up and maybe put out that same law."

Allen said she understands many of the panhandlers truly need help.

But the practice of panhandling needs to be illegal on both sides of Red River, she added.

"I'm a single mom with 2 kids. I have to work 2 jobs. I have to get it. I have to make sure I can provide for my children," she said.

"So if they need to use something in that sort as a motivation, then they should."

There are resources, like The HUB Urban Ministries, that aim to help those in need and prevent them from doing things like panhandling.

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