“Can you spare a quarter?” These are familiar words to anyone who shops or walks around the Westside. How should you react to someone who poses this question to you? Is it best to ignore a panhandler or to give them money?
The Santa Monica Police Department suggests that you consider the following in an encounter with a panhandler:
· Any stranger who approaches you on the street should be viewed with caution, regardless of their appearance.
· NEVER display money or reveal where you keep it to anyone. The person asking for change may be tempted to forcibly demand that you give up all of your cash.
· ALWAYS report any confrontation that you have with someone who physically or verbally forces you to give them money. Go to the nearest phone and report the incident to the police.
If the crime does not constitute a robbery and the police did not witness the incident, you may have to carry out a citizens’ arrest before the suspect can be taken into custody. In any case, wait for the police to arrive. Anyone who is homeless and needs assistance or anyone who would like to help the homeless should contact an agency that provides direct homeless services. For a list of local agencies, call the Homeless Liaison Program at 310-458-8953 or the Community Relations Unit at 310-458-8474.