After solicitation ordinance, no sign of panhandlers in Mebane

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MEBANE, N.C. --A Mebane ordinance aimed at regulating panhandling appears to have diminished the activity significantly.

Police Chief Terrence Caldwell said since city council approved the new solicitation ordinance at its Aug. 1 meeting, the police department has gotten only two calls about panhandlers, and zero people have applied for permits, which the ordinance requires of those who want to solicit.

"I don't know why they would choose not to, but that does seem to be the case," Chief Caldwell said. "That just the mere presence of a process does deter some from wanting to carry out those activities here in Mebane."

The solicitation ordinance, in summary, regulates where street solicitations can occur, prohibiting them from taking place on major roads.

Chief Caldwell said the goal of the ordinance was to promote public safety and not to get rid of panhandlers.

"The ordinance was not adopted to restrict freedom of speech," he said. "The ordinance was adopted to make the streets and road shoulders by those streets safer for all."

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