Sun Prairie police crack down on panhandling at busy roads

Sun Prairie police crack down on panhandling at busy roads

Sun Prairie police will start fining panhandlers Monday who are on medians and anyone who stops for them.

The new pedestrian safety ordinance forbids anyone from standing on the median of a highway or on the median of a cross street within 200 feet of a highway.

If caught, drivers and panhandlers will be given a citation ranging from $25 to $300.

Sun Prairie city leaders said drivers who make sudden stops at busy intersections to give out money can cause car crashes.

Al Guyant, president of the Sun Prairie Common Council, said he even had a close call.

“I almost hit two cars and a rear end when they stopped suddenly to hand out money. It’s dangerous.” Guyant said.

Guyant said Sun Prairie has seen an increase in panhandlers ever since the City of Madison enforced stricter rules on people asking for money.

The common council president said this policy isn’t about being unwelcoming to panhandlers, it’s about keeping everyone safe.

“Some people think we’re doing it because we don’t like the intimidation, the looks of panhandlers. That’s not why I voted for it,” Guyant said. “Desperate people do desperate things. They need money and I hope people continue to give them money some other way, just not in the middle of our streets.”

Sun Prairie police spent the last six weeks informing panhandlers about the new policy and handing them brochures with a list of food pantries, shelters and social services.