Police Address Aggressive Panhandling in Downtown Rock Hill

ROCK HILL, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) Rock Hill Police say they’re receiving complaints about aggressive panhandling happening around Main Street, and now they’re sending a clear message to residents and visitors.

“As soon as it happens, call the police, tell us what’s going on,” said JC Whiteside, Rock Hill’s Community Services Officer, “Because we know a lot of things, but we don’t know everything.”

Andrea Thomas, who works in downtown Rock Hill, says she has experienced aggressive panhandlers who will follow her to her office.

“I even have had a couple of them come up to my office where it says no soliciting on the door, clearly,” said Thomas, “They’ve been told don’t come back, and they do.”

While the Supreme Court has held that panhandling is protected under the First Amendment, under Rock Hill City Ordinance, aggressive panhandling is illegal.

The City of Rock Hill defines aggressive panhandling as touching a person or their property, blocking their passage, threatening them, following them, or using abusive language.

Officer Whiteside says it’s important for people to report panhandlers because, often times, a simple conversation can be enough.

“When I do locate the person doing aggressive panhandling, I try to give kind of a warning” said Whiteside, “Hey, in case you didn’t know…”

Whiteside encourages residents to report panhandlers at 803-329-7200.