Updated March 3, 2016
Dallas PDTV Round Table is back with the second production in 2016, with an in-depth look at the Dallas Police Department’s Quality of Life Initiative. The Quality of Life Initiative is the Dallas Police Department’s answer to citizen’s concerns regarding aggressive panhandling. The initiative began February 1, 2016 and as of March 3, 2016, there have been more than 260 arrests made.
The panel consists of four people who are well-versed in quality of life matters:
- Dallas Police Assistant Chief Gary Tittle
- Dallas Police Crisis Intervention Manager David Hogan
- Manager of Community Courts in Dallas, Dianne Gibson
- Pastor and Executive Director of OurCalling, Wayne Walker
Below are written highlights from the conversation, followed by the round table talk in its entirety.
“[Panhandling and homelessness] are certainly not synonymous terms. You have a lot of homeless people who simply are not panhandlers […] and you have panhandlers who are not always homeless,” Dallas Police Assistant Chief Gary Tittle.
“[Crisis Intervention] provides services the officers don’t have the training to do; they’re involved in the enforcement, which they should be, and we are there to assist in other ways,” Dallas Police Crisis Intervention Manager David Hogan.
“We cannot completely arrest our way out of the problem; it’s going to take all of us working together,” Manager of Community Courts in Dallas, Dianne Gipson.
“The goal is to connect those who have the needs with those that can fill the needs,” Pastor and Executive Director of OurCalling, Wayne Walker.
Updated February 12, 2016:
On February 1, 2016, the Police Department began an initiative to address aggressive panhandling in and around the downtown area.
Locations include all of our 7-11 and CVS stores in the downtown area, the curves for SB I-45 to WB I-30 and into the “canyon” area of I-30. We address the West End restaurants and patios along with the businesses along the core of Main, Elm, and Commerce streets.
This is not a zero-tolerance operation, but rather an effort to impact aggressive and unsafe behavior associated with panhandling. While the term can be subjective, we recognize the acts of walking into the streets and highways to approach vehicle occupants and demand money as aggressive. Additionally, blocking or impeding sidewalks in an effort to coerce money from fellow pedestrians is seen as aggressive, as is standing at or in front of a business demanding money as patrons enter and exit, and then shouting obscenities when money is not given.
Officers on-view the aggressive panhandling behavior, then take the subjects into custody and call the paddy wagon.
We also utilize officers in plain clothes to identify aggressive violations. Upon identifying aggressive violations, uniforms take custody and utilize the paddy wagon for transport.
Aggressive panhandling subjects are arrested and taken to Lew Sterrett. If they must be taken to Parkland for pre-existing medical issues, then the officers transport them to Parkland for treatment and issue a citation.
This is not a focus on those who are homeless, but a focus on aggressive panhandlers. Some arrestees have residences. Some have had over $100 dollars on them at the time of arrest. One lives with his parents, and another states he is supplementing his savings account.
During February 1st – 11th the initiative produced the following results:
138 total violations
128 custodial arrests
19 of which had other outstanding warrants
33 have violent criminal histories
We urge people not to give on the streets. Simply say, “No,” and then go!
While we recognize the desire for some to help those in need, we strongly recommend people seek out a reputable charity that provides assistance and make their contributions to a charitable organization.
We have received a huge positive response and continued support from our downtown stakeholders related to the impact of this initiative.
Updated February 8, 2016:
As mentioned below, on February 1, 2016, the Dallas Police Department put into full effect the Quality of Life Initiative. During the first week of the initiative, officers worked around the clock to address the concerns of those citizens frustrated by persons aggressively asking for and sometimes demanding money. Officers observed 91 violations relating to panhandling. Out of those violations, 89 individuals were taken into custody while 2 citations were issued. The work continues…
The Dallas Police Department’s Quality of Life Initiative is in full effect. This effort is the police department’s response to the outcry from people who live, work, and play in the City of Dallas, who have been approached in an aggressive manner from persons asking for and demanding money.
“We’ve seen an increase in aggressive panhandling in the downtown and surrounding areas over the past few weeks,” said Assistant Chief Gary Tittle, commander of the Strategic Deployment Bureau. “The citizens are voicing their concerns and we are answering the call.”
Aggressive panhandling is the act of an individual verbally confronting another person, demanding his or her donation. It’s also defined as impeding the sidewalk or roadway in an effort to receive money. The initiative is running for 16 hours a day, seven days a week, and while this project solely belongs to the Dallas Police Department, the department is working with other agencies who service the downtown area.
“We are going to focus on the downtown and surrounding areas first, and expand accordingly,” Chief Tittle explained. “One way we are addressing this issue is by educating citizens on other options regarding giving and receiving assistance.”
The initiative is not to stop citizens from giving per se, or stop those in need of assistance from getting help; it’s designed to redirect all citizens to the legal options available for giving and receiving support. Panhandling is illegal in the City of Dallas and it’s classified as a Class C misdemeanor. There are several options for those desiring assistance. The Dallas Police Department encourages anyone who is compelled to give to research programs and give through charities, organizations, or even churches. Not all panhandlers are homeless. Dallas police officers often encounter individuals who are panhandling, however they are not in dire need of assistance, they merely play on the sympathy of citizens who are willing to donate.
All violators will be detained and possibly arrested. Citizens are encouraged to call 911 if he or she on views aggressive panhandling, as with any observed offense.