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Monroeville police asked to crack down on panhandlers

| Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Monroeville council members have asked that police keep a closer eye on panhandlers throughout the business district, in response to increasing complaints from residents.

“I know I've been questioned by residents on this a bunch of times, and I know we've talked about this at previous council meetings,” said Councilman Ron Harvey at an Aug. 7 citizens night at the municipal building.

Harvey, a former traffic officer, said police should enforce Ordinance 2278, which prohibits “aggressive panhandling” that can affect the safety of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The ordinance was adopted in 2003, according to municipal records.

“We've talked about getting an ordinance passed, when (an ordinance) is already here,” Harvey said.

The ordinance could apply to any road in Monroeville, whether it's owned by the municipality, county or state, Monroeville solicitor Bruce Dice said.

And whether it's one person asking for donations for himself or herself, or a group of college students trying to raise money for a cause, no one is permitted to solicit on the side of a highway in Monroeville, police Chief Doug Cole said.

“The problem is that they're always soliciting on a highway,” Cole said. “We don't want them in major intersections.”

Locations frequented by solicitors in recent years have included the intersections of Route 22 and Mosside Boulevard and Route 22 and Center Road.

About five people not associated with an organization have solicited for money and drawn multiple complaints from motorists in recent years, Cole said.

“We have issued citations and made arrests,” Cole said. “But it seems like the number (of solicitors) has grown a little bit over the past months, if not the past few years.”

Cole said people who might consider giving money should know that police officers have attempted to assist people who might have been homeless.

“They've been offered jobs, they've been offered all of that,” Cole said.

Police will enforce the ordinance on public highways, but the ordinance does not apply to private property such as the Miracle Mile Shopping Center, where a few of the solicitors have been known to frequent, Cole said.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2369 or klawson@tribweb.com.

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