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Henrico County ordinance would beg change of panhandlers

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR)--One Henrico man considers panhandling his temporary job, after losing his longtime job at a local warehouse years ago. 

However, this line of work may also come to an end for Jason Cummings.  “That really sucks,” Cummings said.

Panhandling may come to a definite end in Henrico because of one small change being proposed to the county’s ordinance.  “The word standing needs to be taken out of the ordinance,” Joe Rapisarda, Henrico County’s Attorney, said.

Rapisarda said anyone caught standing in the roadway to distribute material or solicit donations can be arrested, but, Rapisarda said some panhandlers get around the ordinance by simply sitting.  “One gentleman actually had a fishing pole so he could sit and actually get a donation without ever leaving a sitting position,” Rapisarda said.

Rapisarda said that they're going after panhandlers because of safety concerns and complaints, primarily on the county's West End. In 2011, police were called 97 times because of panhandling. So far this year, police have already received 93 calls.

Cummings said he gets the sense he’s not wanted. He's already been arrested once for standing and some drivers have been quite expressive. “I've been spit on, been called a slut, lazy," Cummings said.  

However, Cummings said he'll continue to stand his ground until the county gives him a better option.

The county’s Board of Supervisors will review the change at its meeting today before deciding to hold a public comment hearing in October.