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How to Deal with Aggressive Panhandlers

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A few weeks ago, the City of Billings finally admitted that we have a problem with transients downtown.  Like they say in AA, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

This morning, the Flakes read an interesting article about aggressive panhandlers in Missoula.  Similar to the recent meeting we had here in Billings, several city leaders gathered in Missoula to discuss possible ways to clean up their streets downtown.

One of the proposed ideas is to build a “wet housing” detox facility to house transients with alcohol dependency issues.  Of course, that won’t work because many of those homeless people don’t want to quit drinking.  Building a new facility to house drunks doesn’t solve anything.

The panel is also considering a recent plan in Calagary, Alberta, Canada, to place donated pianos on downtown street corners.  We have absolutely no idea how putting a piano downtown will help deter crime.

Here’s an idea.  Why don’t they actually enforce the aggressive panhandling laws that are already on the books.  According to their figures, one Missoula transient has been cited for 193 different panhandling charges in the past 5 years.  Why isn’t that guy in jail?  As taxpayers, Mark and Paul would much rather see their money used to incarcerate repeat offenders who are a threat to the community.

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