Panhandling laws should be enforced

In his Dec. 5 column regarding the tragic death of Jacqueline Smith, Dan Rodricks said that, "panhandlers are everywhere and almost nowhere act violently to those who give them money” (“Killing of woman helping panhandler is another temptation to lose faith in Baltimore. Here's how to keep it instead,” Dec. 4).

Years ago, as county executive, I led a successful effort to prohibit panhandling in Anne Arundel County. While fatalities may be a rare occurrence, panhandling is a public safety hazard at all times, sometimes involving accidents and confrontations. Police officers, who are required to enforce the law, have been trained to advise homeless panhandlers of available social services, while also informing them that their solicitations from highway median strips is illegal. Where panhandling is prohibited, the law should be enforced.

John R. Leopold

The writer is a former Anne Arundel County executive.

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