Summary of the Cincinnati Panhandling Ordinance
All material taken from City Ordinance 910-12. Improper Solicitation.
WHAT IS PANHANDLING?
The ordinance defines solicit and solicitation as making any request in person while in a public place, for an immediate grant of money, goods or any other form of gratuity from another person(s) when the person making the request is not know to the person(s) who are the subject of the request, or to engage in such activity on private property. However, the act of passively sitting or standing with a sign or other indicator, without a vocal request, is not considered solicitation.
WHEN IS PANHANDLING A CRIME?
It is unlawful to solicit in the following places or under the following conditions:
- In any public transportation vehicle.
- Within 20 feet of an ATM or entrance to a bank.
- From any operator or occupant of a motor vehicle or from any person entering or exiting a motor vehicle.
- On private property without permission of the owner.
- Between the hours of 7pm and 7am; or between 8pm and 7am (DST)
It is unlawful for any person to recklessly cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to another by soliciting from another person when the other person is located in the following places or is facing following conditions:
- At any bus stop.
- Within 20 feet of a crosswalk.
- While standing in line waiting to be admitted to a commercial establishment.
It is unlawful for any person to solicit in an aggressive manner, including any of the following actions:
- Soliciting in a manner that impedes access to or from, or use of a building, vehicle or establishment.
- Soliciting in a manner that would alarm, intimidate, threaten, menace, harass, or coerce a reasonable person.
- By following behind, ahead or alongside, blocking the path of, or continuing to solicit a person who walks or drives away from the person soliciting or who gives notice or demonstrates verbally or physically that such solicitation is offensive, unwelcome or that the solicitation should cease.
- By using profane or abusive language or gestures either during the solicitation or following a refusal, or making any statement, gesture or other communication that would cause a reasonable person to be fearful or would be perceived as a threat.
- By touching the solicited person without a statement, gesture or other communication that the person being solicited consents to the touching.
It is unlawful for any person to knowingly make a false or misleading representation in the course of soliciting. False or misleading representations include, but are not limited to the following:
- Stating that the donation is needed to meet a specific need, when the person soliciting already has sufficient funds to meet that need and does not disclose that fact.
- Stating that the donation is needed to meet a need that does not exist.
- Stating that the person soliciting is from out of town and stranded, or that he or she is homeless when that is not true.
- Stating or representing that the person soliciting is a member of a military service when the person soliciting is neither a present nor former member of a military service.
- Stating or representing that the person soliciting suffers from a mental or physical disability or deformity when the person soliciting does not suffer the disability or deformity indicated.
Whoever violates the panhandling ordinance is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. Whoever violates the ordinance three times or more within one year is guilty of a third degree misdemeanor.
MAKE CHANGE – NOT SPARE CHANGE!
And, remember, It’s OK to say “NO” to panhandlers…but say “YES” to giving to the homeless. Put your change where you can make one. Giving money where it can be used effectively is encouraged. Consider a donation of any kind to those organizations that provide the means to help these individuals.
How to say “no” to a Panhandler:
- Make eye contact or acknowledge the person with a nod.
- Politely say “no”….and remember that assistance is available for these persons.
- Walk with confidence. The streets of Cincinnati belong to everyone.
- Remember: Aggressive panhandling is illegal. If you feel threatened, seek out a uniformed Police Officer or a uniformed DCI Downtown Ambassador. To reach an Ambassador, call 623-3429 or contact the Cincinnati Police Department at 765-1212. DCI Downtown Ambassadors wear uniforms composed of royal blue jacket, orange shirt and khaki pants. In case of an EMERGENCY, call 911.
- Additional DCI Downtown Ambassador program contacts are: Ron Mabry, Supervisor, 225-0806 and David Thomas, Manager, 383-5075
- If you want to help financially, please consider making a donation to your favorite charity.