Police chief protests panhandlersUPDATED 4:26 AM HST May 03, 2014Video Transcript
PANHANDLING IN THE CITY OF AUGUSTA IS BECOMING SUCH A PROBLEM THAT THE CHIEF OF POLICE IS MAKING IT HIS PERSONAL MISSION TO MAKE IT STOP. HE'S EVEN GOING SO FAR AS TO TAKE A DAY OFF TO URGE RESIDENTS AGAINST GIVING THEM CASH. WMTW NEWS 8'S JIM KIETHLEY JOINS US LIVE NOW WITH THE STORY. JIM? IT WAS ON THIS VERY CORNER, KNOWN AS "MEMORIAL ROTARY" ON FRIDAY -- FROM 9 "MEMORIAL ROTARY" ON FRIDAY -- FROM 9 TO 3 ON HIS DAY OFF...WHERE CHIEF BOB GREGOIRE DID SOMETHING THAT MIGHT JUST DRIVE PANHANDLERS AWAY -- OR AT LEAST TO THE RIGHT PLACE IF THEY NEED HELP. "I was here Friday. I saw him, We just figured it was another panhandler," said Laurie Whitmore with Rotary Cleaners. But what Whitmore at Rotary Cleaners didn't know was the man in the baseball cal was Augusta's Police Chief. "In all actuality, if you give to these organizations you can help many with that same amoutn of money and they won't use your money to purchase alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs, said Augusta Police Chief Bob Gregoire. At said Augusta Police Chief Bob Gregoire. At the police station on Monday, Chief Gregoire the police station on Monday, Chief Gregoire shows us the sign he made, which directed to people to give to the local soup kitchen or the Salvation Army instead of handing over their hard earned chas to panhandlers. His message to the public, donate wisely. "I think it's a good idea. Cause I can't say whether the people that stand there are homeless or not, but some of them I'm pretty sure they are not. It's a scam," said Whitmore. The chief said $5 given to a pan handler might buy them a meal, but the same $5 will go even further at the local soup kitchen, perhaps enough to make 10 meals. Gregoire said he did it out of frustration, a way to deter panhandlers from coming to the capitol city, a problem he says is getting worse. "some of them are aggressive, pan handling public safety where people are walking in front of cars, they're falling over because they're impaired. They've become agressive. I just wanted to let people know that some of their money is being used for drugs, alcohol and tobacco," said Gregoire. The chief said he'd do it again. It was quire a learning experience. "We all want to help people there is a need but I think there is a better way to do it.."