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Panhandlers: Not wanted, but not against the law

Jeff Tate
by Jeff Tate, Police Chief05/31/2017 10:30 am
Updated: 05/31/2017

The Police Department has received an increasing number of reports about panhandlers in our community. These individuals often stand along highway ramps holding signs that read “Homeless veteran" or "Out of work, kids to feed and no money."

One of the most popular locations in Shakopee (and well-known in the panhandling community) is the Highway 169 ramp at Canterbury Road. We have received reports of panhandlers making $300 to $400 at the site in a few hours. They park their vehicles in the Super America lot and walk to the intersection. We also have reason to believe many panhandlers in Shakopee are dishonestly claiming to be homeless or veterans. 

Panhandling is not illegal. As long as individuals are in the right-of-way and not impeding traffic, standing on the street, trespassing or harassing drivers, they have a legal right to be there. Some cities have tried to establish ordinances prohibiting panhandlers; however, they have been struck down the court system. Thus, our hands are often tied.

The best way to deter panhandling is to not give them money. A location becomes less lucrative when drivers refuse to doll out money.

We understand our residents and visitors’ desire to help people who are struggling, and our community does have people with legitimate needs. However, we encourage you to donate to reputable organizations that help people in difficult situations. You can find a list through FISH network or the CAP Agency of Scott, Carver and Dakota counties.

If you are someone needing help, please do not hesitate to reach out to us, too. We can put you in touch with resources to help you.