MARYLAND

Panhandling crackdown underway in Frederick, Md.

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Police have launched an unusual crackdown in Frederick, Maryland to stop what some residents are calling a nuisance - panhandlers.

Frederick's Downtown area has become a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. But some who live in the area say panhandling has become a significant problem.

Lisa Curtis, a resident of Frederick, said, "They want money? Get out and get a job. That's what jobs are for -- people that want to work -- but a lot of them just don't want to get out and work. They just want to sit out and bum money and it's wrong."

Those who frequent the area say panhandling negatively impacts nearby businesses.

Captain Thomas Ledwell with the Frederick Police Department said, "We've continually received complaints...we just want to keep it vibrant and safe for everybody."

In little over a month, police have arrested nine people for panhandling. According to officers, most of the panhandling occurs Downtown on Market Street and in Carroll Creek Park.

Before making any arrest, police say, they educated and warned residents. Soon after, a undercover unit was deployed to give out money and make arrests.

Panhandling is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in prison and a $500 fine.

"Our goal is not to take enforcement if we don't have to," Ledwell said. "...but if it is a continuing problem, that's the route we do go."

Police add that they've tried other methods, like enhancing services for the homeless.

Ledwell explained, "Our enforcement effort is our last effort to combat the issue."

Some residents have mixed feelings about the tactic.

Dennis Brace of Frederick said, "Some of the people actually need the money and things like that and other people just don't want to work."

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