The Utica Police Department recently posted a news release on their Facebook page urging residents to not give money to panhandlers.  The department says they've received a number of complaints regarding individuals who are soliciting money at various locations throughout the city. There's currently no law on the books that makes this type of behavior illegal. A section of the NYS Penal Law prohibiting Loitering for the Purpose of Begging was repealed in the state Senate a few years ago.

Utica Police Chief Mark Williams told WKTV, there are several charities and organizations within the city which provide assistance to those in need. He says before giving to the panhandlers, give to local homeless shelters such as the Rescue Mission or Hope House instead.

Police say there are safety concerns for the individual asking for money and for the motorists because of how close the activity takes place to the roadway.

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