Williston Police Department to cite ‘panhandlers’

The following was posted recently on the Williston Police Department’s Facebook page.

It’s come to our attention that several of our fellow townsfolk have come forward to complain about certain individuals harassing the Williston citizenry regarding charitable donations while those citizens are going through their daily activities. We have been asked to deal with this issue.

As you go about your business in the future, you may see our officers writing citations for the activity known as panhandling. We’d like to ask for your understanding in several items.

First, there is no panhandling statute under the South Carolina Code of Laws, instead, we will be writing citations for a town ordinance, section 54-102--Loitering, obstructing passage. Under this section, it is unlawful for any person to obstruct, molest, or interfere with any person lawfully upon any street or public place. This would include soliciting or asking for money. It is against our policy, at this time, to place people in jail for violating town ordinances.

Second, you mContriay see us make an arrest under these circumstances if the suspect in question is for any reason found on a piece of property where they have been served a trespass notice in the past. That does indeed fall under state law as Trespass After Notice and is indeed an arrestable offense.

I know this post is a little lengthy, but I personally believe that if folks understand why and how their police officers do what we do, we can avoid misunderstandings that are counterproductive to our mission to safeguard the citizenry of Williston.

Thanks for your time.

Sgt. Daniel Logan

Williston Police Department