Panhandlers Prominent Near I-74 Exits - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Panhandlers Prominent Near I-74 Exits


It's become a common sight with the weather warming up, panhandlers soliciting money along area roads. Bettendorf is one city that allows it with some restrictions. Police Chief Phil Redington says it's something that has gradually risen over the last few years in the city, with the economy likely a factor.

It's nearing 3 o'clock in the afternoon as Bettendorf Officer Tim Doty pulls up to the intersection of 14th and State Streets. It is one of the usual spots for panhandlers near Interstate 74. There he finds Jerry Nelson who is unable to work after suffering a leg injury several years ago. "I'm on disability and a veteran check and everything. There's a lot of good people out here that will help," said Nelson.

Nelson is at the location on a regular basis and normally is registered for solicitation, but his six month permit has expired. "They're showing that you don't have one so you need to get it reinstated," Officer Doty explain to Nelson.

Registration is required to panhandle in Bettendorf. It is free and allows the city to do background check and offer community resources. Right now there are about 18 people signed up. "I would say over the years there has been an increase," said Chief Redington. He says his department does get complaints on somewhat of a regular basis. There are occasionally what he calls "turf wars," but mostly they are concerns over safety. "We will get complaints of them being aggressive, coming out into the roadway to solicit money and you can't do that."

Up at I-74 and Spruce Hills Drive Marcia Meier is reaching out for support for her family. "With groceries and clothing, it helps me out quite a bit," said Meier. At a little after 3 p.m. she too was in violation of the ordinance. Panhandling isn't allowed during peak travel times. "You can't be soliciting between 3 and 6 okay," said Officer Doty. He explained that she could return in a few hours. Solicitation is also prohibited from 6 to 9 a.m.

"Our city attorney advises us that constitutionally they have a right to panhandle. That's why we have an ordinance that restricts it and helps us as a police department to manage it," added Chief Redington.

Davenport's rules are similar to those in Bettendorf. It is a violation to aggressively solicit, block traffic, or be within 20 feet of a bank or ATM. East Moline does not have an ordinance on the books dealing with panhandling. In Moline, soliciting money on city right of way is considered a general nuisance and is not allowed.