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East St. Louis cracking down on panhandling in business district

EAST. ST. LOUIS – Shops and restaurants make up East St. Louis' main business district along 25th street.

"This is all we got right now" said City Councilman Roy Mosley.  "This is our mall, this is our moneymaker, this is our tax base and this is where we strive" he said.

But Mosley is worried that lately, another form of business is taking over the district, that could drive consumers and thriving business straight out.

"All I'm saying is we need to stop it" he said.  "We need to get a handle on it or these people are going to move out, the companies are going to move out and we will have nowhere to go" said Mosley.

Councilman Mosley is talking about panhandling.  It's an issue that no doubt happens everywhere, but in a city like East St. Louis- where Mosley says resources are already scarce- Mosley wants to crackdown before the panhandling gets out of hand.

"We're trying to actively get a grasp on it because we have seen it increase" said East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Hubbard.

"We've assigned two officers on different shifts in this area to serve as business liaison officers and basically what they do is go to the different businesses, check with the business owners, they make contact with the people out here if it's panhandling we run them away if it's something we make some arrests" Hubbard said.

But more than simply arresting and fining violators, Hubbard wants to help the perpetrators not commit again.

"Attacking it from the law enforcement end is one portion of it, but trying to figure out why they're here and if there are any services we can provide with some of the service agencies is another portion" Chief Hubbard said.