MODESTO (CBS13) — City leaders in Modesto are turning to the public asking for help in reducing the amount of panhandling taking place throughout the community.
Despite posting signs around town, officers say panhandlers continue to beg and people are still giving them money.
For close to two years, Pasqal Ceballos, 43, called the streets of Modesto home.
“Not knowing anybody, I really didn’t know where to go, or what to do,” he said.
He spent three years behind bars for a DUI crash that hurt two people. After prison, he was homeless and forced to panhandle just to survive.
“What I tend to notice about some people is that they will see if you smell like alcohol or if you look like you are on drugs and they won’t give you any money. If you’re sober and you look like you need help, they will help you out,” he said.
Ceballos eventually found help at the Modesto Gospel Mission, just one of the handful of organizations Modesto police officers are teaming up with to get people to give their money to instead of panhandlers on the street.
“That’s where we become that outlet so, they know their finances is what’s being given is structured to a place that is being organized and are providing the services to relief our community of that problem,“ said Jason Conway, interim executive director of Modesto Gospel Mission.
Since the “no panhandling” signs warning people panhandling is prohibited went up last year, officers have seen some change, especially in the downtown area, but they say more work and outreach needs to be done.
“Unfortunately for us, it’s a low priority call so, if we do receive a complaint that someone is panhandling our officers are pretty good, and they can spot them pretty quickly and move them along,” said Heather Graves with the Modesto Police Department.