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Discussion On Curbing Panhandlers Gets Curbed in Joplin - KOAM TV 7

Discussion On Curbing Panhandlers Gets Curbed in Joplin

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     The City of Joplin is looking to curb peddlers and solicitors at major intersections throughout the city.
     Something that was discussed during tonight's city council meeting.
     Just not for long.     
     The issue is pretty straight forward -- public safety.
Captain Trevor Duncan: "So anytime you talk about somebody being on foot, in the roadway, there's some inherent safety concerns, the more lanes there are, the higher the speeds are, the more danger there is."
    Captain Duncan is discussing a proposed emergency ordinance, which would be an amendment to the Solicitors and Peddlers chapter of the Joplin City Code.
    The change would prohibit solicitors from being within 150 feet of any intersection, where the speeds are 35 miles an hour or greater.
    The ordinance would keep both panhandlers and drivers safer, which Duncan says is an expectation of those on the road.
Duncan: "They have an expectation there that nobody's going to be approaching their car."
    Typically, emergency ordinances are passed during the meeting in which they're presented, but this one was different.
    Council spent time discussing their concerns with the wording of the ordinance, what groups would be included and just how specific enforcement would be.
    There are also fears that this ordinance could be viewed as 'targeting' panhandlers and the homeless.
    Councilman Taylor Brown mentioned potential issues with freedom of speech.
    But it all boiled down to the council determining that this change may not solve the problem, it could just push panhandlers further back on the busy streets.
    Councilman Dan McCreary made a motion to table the ordinance, with a hope that more public input would be gathered, and the wording of the ordinance could be fine-tuned to ensure it was fair.
    The motion passed 5 in favor, 3 against, and now the ordinance will be taken up at the next council meeting.
    That next council meeting is scheduled for February 5th at 6:00pm.     

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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