SAINT ROBERT/RICHLAND/DIXON, Mo. (July 8, 2009) — Two people arrested this week by Richland and Saint Robert police learned the hard way that panhandling doesn’t pay, and it may land the panhandler in prison.
Detective Sgt. Doug Cooley of the St. Robert Police Department told city council members Monday night that police had received a report earlier that afternoon of a man asking for money with a sign. When a police officer arrived and tried to ask the man’s name, he bolted and ran across Interstate 44. The officer didn’t try to pursue the fleeing panhandler across four lanes of highway-speed traffic due to safety considerations, but St. Robert police have enough manpower that they were able to quickly send additional officers to surround the area on the other side of Interstate 44 where the man had fled.
“We took him down at gunpoint and we found out information, while the foot pursuit was in progress, that he was an absconder on a parole violation for dangerous drugs,” Cooley told council members.
In a later interview, Cooley said his department has filed a probable cause statement with the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney stating that the fleeing panhandler had drug paraphernalia in his possession, but filing of formal charges on that issue will have to wait for the prosecuting attorney to act following receipt of drug test results from the state crime lab; that process typically takes weeks to complete.
Due to the panhandler’s status as a parole absconder, Cooley declined to release his name without prior clearance from the probation and parole office; staff members in that office authorized to make that decision weren’t available Wednesday due to court hearings.
The man isn’t from the Pulaski County area, Cooley said.
While Cooley hesitated to release the parole absconder’s name without prior clearance, Richland Police Chief M.J. Hurney issued a press release Wednesday morning with details of a similar case involving a Tennessee man. According to the Richland press release, Anthony Sannipoli, 29, was taken into custody by Richland police on Tuesday evening for illegal door-to-door solicitation.
“Sannipoli continually provided officers with false information regarding his true identity. Taken into custody on local charges, further investigation by Richland officers and staff at the Pulaski County Jail revealed the subject’s true identity and that he was wanted by the Michigan Department of Corrections for a no-bond, felony parole violation warrant,” according to Hurney.
Sannipoli was released to the Pulaski County Jail and remains jailed awaiting extradition proceedings, Hurney said.
Chief Deputy Tom Cristoffer of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department said his agency’s records don’t indicate what the Michigan felony was for which Sannipoli is being held on a no-bond warrant.
St. Robert and many other cities have ordinances prohibiting solicitation of donations without a permit, which has the effect of prohibiting panhandling since permits are given only to representatives of legitimate organizations. Panhandlers have since become more sophisticated in their methods and work hard to evade police, Cooley said.
“These guys are pretty slick; they’re using walkie-talkies to notify each other when law enforcement officials are in the area,” Cooley said. While some people like give money to panhandlers, there’s no way to know whether the people who say they need money actually need it, or whether they have enough money to use advanced techniques such as working in teams to evade police. The panhandler arrested Monday had a walkie-talkie and admitted using it to evade officers, Cooley said.
Panhandlers with signs also cause drivers to pay attention to them rather than to their driving, Cooley said.
“That’s the reason we’ve got a city ordinance because all they do is cause traffic problems. People lose their attention when they are driving their cars and see these guys by the side of the road, and sooner or later we’re going to have an accident,” Cooley said.
Besides the two panhandlers, two other people are in the Pulaski County Jail awaiting extradition on felony offenses.
According to a press release issued Wednesday afternoon by Sheriff J.B. King, deputies were asked for help by the U.S. Marshals’ Service in finding two people from the Lawton area of Oklahoma who had “active felony warrants for dangerous drug offenses” from Comanche County in that state.
Deputies went to an address on the 10500 block of Cedar Lane outside Dixon and at 12:36 p.m., were able to locate both of the wanted people, Lena Ann Barriner and Dennis Dwight Barriner, both 27, and arrested them without incident. They’ll be held until they post bond or are extradited back to Oklahoma, King said.