First Alert Weather Alert: Flood Warning expires at 8:00 AM on 4/18, issued at 10:44 AM Bryceville, FL | Callahan, FL | Fernandina Beach, FL | Glen Saint Mary, FL

JSO creates task force to combat panhandling

Reported by: Sam King
Set Text Size SmallSet Text Size MediumSet Text Size LargeSet Text Size X-Large
Updated: 10/11/2013 7:49 pm

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is working to send the message that panhandling is illegal.

One group of panhandlers that moves from city to city said Jacksonville isn’t all that friendly.

"It’s hard to make money here. The cops harass us, arrest us for almost nothing,” said one, who only identified himself as Goblin.

Another woman recently found herself behind bars for panhandling as well. Alina Antonescu is accused of using her own children to get cash and gift cards at stores and restaurants in the Oakleaf area.

"I think there are a small portion of them abusing the kindheartedness of individuals in Duval County,” said Andre Ayoub, who is assistant chief of Zone 1 for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. "That's the element that if we have to put them in jail, that's what we'll do."

But JSO is also taking a long-term approach, partnering with groups like Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida to connect those who have legitimate issues with services.

The partnership is focusing on Zone 1, which includes the central core, as police said it was a hot spot for homelessness and other societal issues.

"By working with the Sheriff's Office to address the underlying issues, it helps us to more people from homeless to permanent housing,” said Dawn Gilman, executive director of the coalition.

Panhandling is banned in the central core of Jacksonville, and is also banned under state statute. It is a misdemeanor, which carries only a couple of days of jail time at most.

2 Comment(s)
Comments: Show | Hide

Here are the most recent story comments.View All

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

Gunny48 - 10/12/2013 2:44 PM
0 Votes
Come on out to Dunn Avenue just off 95N. You'll load up!

Realchange - 10/11/2013 10:09 PM
0 Votes
So for begging they will put you in jail. Forget the Constitution or freedom. Remember how a lot of you say thank you veterans for your sacrifice ? Most of the homeless people arrested for panhandling usually are veterans, made sick from their service and denied benefits. Seems like Florida can arrest you can charge you with just about anything they want. Yes some people abuse the system by begging and making a lot money from it most do not.
Inergize Digital This site is hosted and managed by Inergize Digital.
Mobile advertising for this site is available on Local Ad Buy.