Fresno police arrested an “aggressive panhandler” in West Fresno, and found he was quite successful at his job: he had $1,800 on his person.
Kevin Joy, 43, was arrested by police for staying on the center median of a street without a permit. Police stated he had confronted roughly a dozen vehicles within twenty minutes. Joy reportedly had a history of bouts with police; he had been cited or arrested 11 times in the 18 days prior to his latest arrest and more than 60 times in 2015, according to yourcentralvalley.com.
Fresno has been plagued by panhandlers for years; on July 15, 2008, the Fresno City Council discussed an ordinance revolving around panhandling. One councilmember said the ordinance would apply to any person on median islands and not just panhandlers, adding that those people were basically illegal vendors. A violation of the ordinance would have been deemed an infraction and a criminal code enforcement effort with additional fines. The proposed ordinance was rejected.
But by April 2010, an ordinance had been passed that outlawed being in the medians of Fresno city streets without a city permit.
In 2013, when reviewing the 2008 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, a Fresno Grand Jury stated, “The non-enforcement of ordinances regarding panhandling and shopping cart theft enable the homeless to remain independent and be a public nuisance.”
In November 2015, one Fresno panhandler told KMPH-KFRE he made $3,000 a month panhandling. Sergeant Robert Dewey, who supervises the Fresno Police Department’s Homeless Task Force, added, “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We can’t give tickets and expect this problem to go away. These folks are mostly all committing misdemeanors and those do not carry any jail time at this point. They are mostly warrants that turn into future misdemeanors and it’s this huge cycle of just ticket after ticket after ticket.”