The sight of a panhandler begging for money in public places has been a sight seen more and more in Lawton lately.
The Lawton Police Department is urging citizens not to give in to guilt and handover your cash. Many areas in the community are becoming prime areas for panhandlers, according to Sgt. Christopher Blessing, LPD information officer.
“While we understand that people may feel compassion for those who are in need, giving money directly to panhandlers can have unintended consequences that are impacting our community,” he said.
The recent arrest of one man for panhandling near Northwest 67th Street and Quanah Parker Trailway has investigators believing they’ve uncovered a group using an array of tactics to lure “Good Samaritans” into giving money to false causes, Blessing said.
“For example, we know the group displays signs that portray funding is needed for a small child in a hospital,” he said. “This group will also pretend to be playing a violin, when it is a recording from an amplifier.”
Calling many of these street beggars “nomads,” Blessing said many are using panhandling as a source of income and collecting as much money as possible before skipping town.
LPD Lt. Daniel Harter said if someone is truly in need, there are many viable options besides shaking down the public.
“We have many churches and nonprofits in our area whose goal is to help those less fortunate in our community,” he said. “Together, we can create a safer and more compassionate community by supporting organizations that provide effective support to those in need, rather than giving money directly to panhandlers.”
You can find more information on local charities and organizations offering community assistance at the City of Lawton’s website: https://www.lawtonok.gov/ , keyword, “Community Resources.”