Orlando police get aggressive on panhandling

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando police are cracking down on what they called an aggressive panhandling problem.

In 2013, officers arrested more than 460 panhandlers and so far this year, and they’ve jailed 93.

At least 16 of the arrests were on Orange Avenue, 19 on Colonial Drive and 12 on Orange Blossom Trail.

Police said the complaints keep coming in, despite the increase in arrests and ordinances designed to limit the problem.

“The people who are following people, even sometimes committing batteries by grabbing on to people in attempts to get money,” said Sgt. Jim Young.  “If they’re arrested, they’re just going to do what they’re going to do.”

It’s a small part of the ongoing, larger chronic homelessness problem that Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer formed an “Impact Team” to help solve.

Police said they’ve recently been going undercover to arrest illegal panhandlers by posing as citizens to tackle the problem, but some residents said the effort is not enough.

“I don’t think that’s a solution at all. (They're) in jail, out the next day, doing the same thing again,” said resident Bobby Brin. “I think they need to have more resources for the homeless in central Florida.”

Neither police nor city leaders have come up with a long-term solution to eliminate panhandling.