MIDDLE TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (PIX11) – Beggars are now required to get a license to panhandle in one Southern New Jersey town.
The new Middle Township law is designed to deal with aggressive panhandlers, and requires them to obtain a free permit making them official for a year, at which point they have to renew.
The ordinance also forbids any aggressive panhandling, including blocking traffic while begging; asking for money at ATMs, bus stops and train stations; and trying to perform services — such as washing windshields — for money.
“It’s a recurring complaint from our residents,” Police Chief Christopher Leusner told the Press of Atlantic City. “I’ve gotten numerous complaints from residents that say, ‘Hey, I was in ShopRite, I was on my way to my car and a person followed me and asked me (for money) three or four times.'”
The municipal mandate goes into effect Oct. 27, and anyone found panhandling without a permit could face a $250 fine or even jail time.
Panhandlers who aren’t aggressive won’t be targeted, said Leusner, “Someone walks by and says, ‘Can you spare a dollar?’ And they thank you, they keep on moving – that’s something that is protected by the First Amendment.”