Officials weigh in on increased panhandling in Lexington

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Panhandling
Photo Courtesy: MGN Online

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – City officials are trying to figure out how to deal with a sudden increase in the number of panhandlers, and a rising number of complaints about them.

The city says the increased occurrence of panhandling happened when the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down a city ban,  saying it violated panhandlers’ right to free speech.

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Lexington police say they will be increasing patrols in areas where panhandlers tend to go.

Mayor Jim Gray is advising the public not to give money, saying, “Giving cash can be harmful. It can be harmful for those, especially those with addictions, and so, again, I will ask our citizens not to give cash.”

The city says if people are approached by a panhandler, they should try and direct them to a shelter.

City officials say they are working on a new ordinance that would decrease panhandling but still comply with the supreme court ruling.