Breakdown of Indianapolis panhandling citations focuses on 2 key spots

Most citations downtown, at Keystone ramps

INDIANAPOLIS - Most of the tickets issued by police for panhandling in Indianapolis have centered around two busy intersections, a review of recent citations by the Call 6 Investigators has found.

Of the 97 arrests or citations issued for panhandling over the past six months, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department records show 64 of the citations were issued in the downtown area or the East 86th Street ramps from Keystone Avenue.

"A vast majority of these folks are not homeless, they are simply taking advantage of people's kindness," said IMPD Lt. Chris Bailey, who has encountered panhandlers in his previous undercover work with the department.

The Call 6 Investigators reviewed all 97 arrests or citations issued between Aug. 21, 2013 and Feb. 21, 2013 and found 38 of those tickets were issued in the downtown business district, especially sidewalks near the Circle Centre Mall.

There were 26 tickets issued during that same period on the North Keystone Avenue ramp onto East 86th Street, another heavy shopping and business area.

"Panhandling is often the first topic equated with homeless, and they're not always that and the same," said Christy Shepard, executive director of Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention (CHIP).

"It absolutely affects the perception of what homelessness or housing instability looks like in Indianapolis," she said.

Shepard said giving money to panhandlers is sometimes feeding an addiction or causing further problems. 

"What this does is it really focuses on short-term fixes versus long-term solutions," she said.

A local ordinance makes it illegal to panhandle near an intersection or in a street, and police records show officers issuing tickets near Lafayette Road and West 46th Street, as well as Pendleton Pike and Interstate 465 on the east side and Keystone Avenue at Kessler Boulevard.

The Call 6 Investigators reviewed the police arrest data as part of a hidden camera report that will air Thursday during on RTV6 News at 11:00.

The report will focus on panhandlers who claim to be homeless or disabled, while hidden camera footage raises doubts about those claims.

"It doesn't surprise me that there are people out there that are taking advantage of people's kindness," said Bailey.

View Indianapolis panhandling citation locations below. On a mobile device, go here -- http://bit.ly/1fDqsYK

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