NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) – New signage in downtown and other areas of New London encourages residents to report panhandling, which, per a new anti-panhandling city ordinance, now carries a hefty $250 fine.
“We’ve actually had people come in the restaurant and panhandle but I’m always there or one of my guys is always here,” said Rod Cornish of Hot Rod Café. “They’ll come in and say they need money for the bus, it’s always the same people.”
Some 15 signs have been put up throughout the city. There may be a typo but the message is clear.
“We’re definitely not against people in need but I think when they actually start affecting business and making people feel uncomfortable, I think the law is a good thing,” Cornish said.
“Members of our City Center District have expressed concerns that aggressive panhandlers are hurting business and lowering the quality of life for downtown residents,” Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said in the statement, according to the New London Day.
“Visitors and residents need to know that our downtown is safe and welcoming,” Finizio added.
New London resident De’chelle Darden says dealing with panhandlers is part of her daily routine. She said she usually gives them a dollar or some change if she’s never seen them before.
But Cornish worries the soliciting may detour customers if “they feel threatened or intimidated or just annoyed,”
Police say the department has already begun to issue $250 tickets to those who ask for change.
Tina Detelj reporting