CSPD given orders against unlawful panhandling citations

Colorado Springs, Colo. — The Colorado Springs Police Department has been given orders to stop issuing illegal citations for panhandling that does not violate a city ordinance.

The city gave the order in light of an investigation by the Americans Civil Liberties Union.

READ MORE: Colorado Springs vs. Panhandlers 

According to ACLU the Colorado Springs Police Department had issued hundreds of citations for panhandling to people who were not violating the city ordinance. In a letter responding to the ACLU, the city attorney states pending prosecutions against panhandlers who were in fact not breaking the law will be dismissed.

Click here to read the letter from the City in response to the ACLU investigation.

“The police were issuing citations that they didn’t have authority to issue,” said Mark Silverstein, Legal Director for the ACLU. “The city prosecutors instead of dismissing they were prosecuting and the municipal court judges were entering convictions and imposing sentences for conduct that didn’t violate the law.”

The City Attorney quickly reacted by stating this in the letter: “It is possible that their scope regarding passive solicitation particularly at or near streets and highways has been misunderstood.”

The same letter stated the actions the city is taking, including a police bulletin telling officers to not give out tickets to solicitors doing nothing but holding a sign, which according to the city ordinance is not a violation.

“We had information that there had been almost 900 citations issued since the beginning of 2013 and I believe that 90 percent of those were tickets that were issued to people who were merely holding a sign,” Silverstein said.

The ACLU believes the city needs to take the step of undoing previous convictions. The city said it will be reviewing all court cases related to the issue.

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