Panhandling concerns a Wichita neighborhood

Posted: Updated:

At the Mead Neighborhood Association meeting a member of the Wichita Police Departments Homeless Outreach Team fielded questions from folks about panhandlers getting too aggressive when it comes to asking for money.

We have all seen it at stop lights. People holding signs asking for money. Some people do give money, but panhandling in Wichita is illegal. Residents in the mead neighborhood want to know what can be done to curb the problem. 

"The 'HOT' team has been really good about it, but their hands are tied by a supreme court ruling," said George Theoharis

According to the police department's Homeless Outreach Team, known as 'HOT', it is still against the law to ask someone for money. However, a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court means panhandling could be considered free speech. According to State Representative Jim Ward speaking at a neighborhood association meeting: Panhandling is a gray area. 

"Somebody comes up to you and says can I get five bucks for a pack of cigarettes or something like that, now you are in a gray area. The officers are in a position to say gosh is that speech?" said Ward.

Theoharis is worried about aggressive or brazen panhandlers that his neighbors have told him about.

"Someone came up and knocked on their door and was begging and that's when I starting to have a problem with that," said Theoharis.

According to the 'HOT' team if someone panhandles on private property they are trespassing, and you can ask them to leave. Theoharis admits he can't offer a solution but would like to see some changes before the city is on a national stage. 

"We definitely need to do something because we have the NCAA tournament coming in 2018 and we definitely don't need a bunch of panhandlers making our city look bad," said Theoharis. 

According to the 'HOT', don't give money to a panhandler or homeless person. If you feel moved to give, donate that money to organizations that can help those in need in the long run. 

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to


  • Most Popular Stories

    • Closings & Delays

      The latest list of school and weather-related closings and delays.

    • Snow and wind blast back into KAKEland

      Another blast of winter on the menu for KAKEland on Tuesday as a strong cold front drop temperatures and brings a stiff north wind to the state. Snow and freezing drizzle are anticipated across KAKEland and roads could turn slick.

    • Missing mom of 4 last seen leaving Kentucky bar nearly 3 weeks ago

      Savannah Spurlock was last seen on surveillance video outside The Other Bar in Lexington, leaving with two men.

    • Interstate 70 reopens in western Kansas as storm moves east

      As the storm moved east, many Kansas schools closed early and canceled events, and roads were becoming slippery across much of the state.

    • Wichita woman dies after crashing into semi

      The Kansas Highway Patrol says Tuyen Nguyen was driving north when her Honda Civic crossed the center line, struck a southbound tractor-trailer and hit a guardrail.  

    • Missing in Kansas: Ivy Martin

      Police are searching for a missing Wichita teen, Ivy Martin.

    • Shutdown hurts Wichita cafe

      "It was 34% down, 35% down. By the time I got to one day at 54% down, I was really scared," said Cynthia Wilson, owner of Parsnipity Cafe in Wichita. Wilson says the federal government shutdown is not only eating into her profits, it's threatening her business. 

    • Police: Shotgun that killed 9-year-old Wichita boy was locked in safe

      Royale Spencer and an 11-year-old boy were able to get the locked gun safe to open. Inside were two rifle-type BB guns and a shotgun, which was loaded.

    • Two killed in head-on crash

      Two people were killed in a two-vehicle accident early Monday.   

    • Security systems keeping Riverside safe

      Troy Rowland moved to North Riverside twelve years ago. He says when he moved in, he had no idea how much vandalism and crime went on around his home.