Panhandling ordinance adds another tool for officers

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - The new panhandling ordinance had issues moving in, but so far there have been zero panhandling arrests.

After the new panhandling ordinance created a big debate, Captain James Johns from the Rapid City Police Department says it seems to be working. Johns says there have been zero arrests since the ordinance was passed in early March.

The ordinance faced backlash as several people argued that it targeted and racially profiled Native Americans.

Prior to the ordinance change, if a person was arrested for harassment, stalking or disorderly conduct, they would normally face jail time, rather than assistance at the Care Campus. Johns says the ordinance has added another tool officers can use to gain compliance.

"There was no effort for a one-fill swoop of going out and arresting a bunch of people or anything like that. It's a tool that officers can use to gain compliance on a lot of other issues," said Johns.

Captain Johns also added the Downtown Ambassador program has been a fabulous program that has allowed more eyes and ears downtown.