Could a Ban on Giving to Panhandlers Happen in the Basin?

Could a Ban on Giving to Panhandlers Happen in the Basin?

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A controversial proposal by a Texas police department is sparking outrage across the state.

The San Antonio police chief wants to make it illegal to give panhandlers money or even food.

It's happened to just about every one of us.

"They just randomly come up to me and ask for money and I just tell them I don't have any," resident, Paloma Barraza, said.

Panhandlers standing at busy intersections or walking in parking lots begging for cash.

"At Academy, they're on the corner of that," resident, Don Creech, said. "Right there at Walmart of course, they're on the corner of that and 338 going to Midland right by the Sam's, they're right there."

The police chief in San Antonio wants to put a stop to it in his city so he's proposing a new ordinance that makes it a Class C misdemeanor to offer money or food to panhandlers.

"You can't stop them from wanting to help people," Barraza said.

"People would still do it because the belief system is stronger than the law in my opinion," Creech said. "Whether we give them money or not, they're still gonna be there."

The City of Midland doesn't have any panhandling laws in place but the City of Odessa does.

"You can't ask for money, you can't sell things without a permit on public or private property," Cpl. Steve LeSueur, with the Odessa Police Department, said. "It has been an increasing problem due to the influx of people that moved here."

LeSueur said it's a double-edged sword.

"Some of them really do need it, however, unfortunately there's a lot of people who are taking advantage of the situation because of all the money here in town," he said.

But could that ordinance happen here?

"It would be something to address with city leaders," LeSueur said.

Although it's not a crime in Odessa to help out panhandlers, officials said you may want to think twice before opening your wallet.

"When you're giving money to these solicitors, you're participating in illegal activity because you're just making the problem worse," LeSueur said.