July 14, 2013

Door-to-door solicitors subject of city rule change

7-14-2013 Texas:

HUNTSVILLE — The Huntsville Police Department does not have the authority through city ordinance to deny a permit to door-to-door solicitors with serious criminal histories like homicide, sex offenses or burglary. The city requires solicitors to obtain a permit from HPD, but the police could only deny the request for untruthfulness on the application.

That is what led police chief Kevin Lunsford to introduce an amendment to Chapter 32 of the Code of Ordinances that regulates solicitation and peddling for public safety.

“So if they were just paroled out of TDC, if they were a sex offender or a burglar, we couldn’t deny them a permit to come to your house,” Lunsford said at the June 18 City Council meeting. “So that’s the main thing we started trying to address with this, and this gives us some avenues to deny them if they’ve had certain convictions in the last five years or so.

“It’s more clearly specified the times of day or night when they could and couldn’t. We don’t want them coming at all hours of the night.”

The rule change would prohibit solicitation between 8 p.m. or sunset (whichever comes first) and 9 a.m. Added language to the ordinance says the police chief could refuse or revoke a certificate if the applicant has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving a sex offense, drug trafficking, burglary, theft, or any violent crimes within five years of the application.

Police can also deny an applicant’s request if they have been under civil judgment for fraud.

Lunsford said the department has seen an increase in panhandlers along interstate corridors, so a change in the ordinance makes it an offense to engage in panhandling in a public place within the corporate city limits.

The City Council will consider voting on the ordinance at tonight’s regular session. ..Source.. by Brandon K. Scott

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