FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Everyone has seen surveillance cameras that catch crooks and speeders, but now they’re looking for panhandlers.
The city of Fort Collins is taking a hard line. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office has had mobile camera units for a few years. They were most recently used during the High Park Fire, but now they have a new job — helping deputies enforce a new county ordinance on panhandling.
One of the cameras is positioned at the busy intersection at Timberline and Mulberry.
“Right now that camera is there for panhandling, that’s what we’re looking for. There is no other reason but that,” Capt. John Manago with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said.
The county recently passed an ordinance banning panhandlers.
“Panhandlers at this particular intersection are kind of a safety hazard for us just because they’re stepping into the street to try and contact drivers,” Lt. Robert Cook with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said.
Cook, as well as other deputies, has software installed in his patrol car that allows him to monitor the intersection without having to continually patrol the area.
“Our reason for putting the camera at this location specifically was so that it’s a visible deterrent,” Cook said.
“We knew we couldn’t have deputies there all the time to enforce it,” Manago said. “With some of the cuts, we just don’t have the personnel to do it. And then we realized that this piece of equipment was a great force multiplier.”
The sheriff’s office says they plan on moving the cameras to other intersections in the future.
“Right now we’re pretty happy with how it’s working and what it’s doing,” Manago said. “That’s been a tremendous help for us dealing with that panhandling issue.”
The sheriff’s office said they have not issued any citations for panhandling within the county because they are still trying to get the word out about the ordinance. The fine for panhandling is $1,000.