North Sound News

Monroe police get creative to discourage panhandling

MONROE, Wash. — Police in Monroe are getting creative to discourage panhandling.

The Monroe Police Department made a video that's quickly gaining traction on social media.

A homeless man named Chris said he tries to supplement his disability income on a street corner outside the Monroe Walmart, and even on a slow day where he only collects a dollar, it’s a dollar more than he had yesterday.

He said a few more days on the corner might buy him a new tent.

"I don't have the paperwork that I need to get into housing,” said Chris.

Panhandling in the city is not illegal, but police are using a panhandlers' technique to discourage it.

The department posted a video on social media showing an officer with various messages printed on cardboard signs, such as those used by panhandlers.  The general message is, as printed on one sign, “Say no to panhandling, say yes to charities.”

Shari Bickmore founded the non-profit Circles of Hope nearly 20 years ago.

“Pandhandling doesn’t help them,” said Bickmore. “We started doing hot lunches for the homeless, clothing, breakfast, anything they wanted we got for them -- gloves, socks, shoes, boots, tarps -- even jobs."

Bickmore has helped thousands, but she says it's getting harder to do that. Donations are down a little every year.

So, she said instead of donating directly to Chris, people can donate to Circles of Hope and let the organization donate to Chris.

People like Chris wouldn't need to buy a tent if Circles of Hope could get him housing.

“We don't give money, that's one thing we don't give. We give food. We ask what their needs are, what can we do to help you, how do we get you off the street?" said Bickmore.

Say No to panhandling and Yes to charities!

Posted by Monroe Police Department on Monday, July 22, 2019