Montgomery cracking down on illegal solicitors
By Erika Wurst firstname.lastname@example.org September 19, 2013 3:18PM
Montgomery Police Chief Daniel C. Meyers
Updated: October 21, 2013 2:17PM
It is a problem that just doesn’t seem to be going away in Montgomery.
For about three years now, solicitors have been staking out the intersection of Route 30 and Route 34, asking for donations from anyone who passes by.
Montgomery police said they aren’t sure where these folks are coming from, only that they are not supposed to be there.
“We haven’t been able to confirm their story,” Police Chief Daniel Meyers said of the solicitors, some of whom claim to be collecting for a church in Chicago. They do not have proper permits to be there, but that doesn’t seem to stop them, he said.
On any given day they can been seen standing on medians at the intersection, holding everything from milk jugs to water pitchers, collecting donations from drivers who get stopped at the high-traffic location. And, the situation can get dangerous.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora), whose constituents live in the area, said she fields complaints often from people frustrated with the situation.
“When I go knocking on doors (in that area), people I talk to bring it up at just about every house,” Kifowit said.
She said residents are concerned for their own safety, as well as the safety of the solicitors who weave in and out of traffic.
“They have been in front of cars when the light turns green,” she said. “Residents want to be able to drive in the roadways without fear of these individuals in their line of traffic.”
Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley said he, too, has fielded complaints about the ongoing problem.
“We are not sure who these folks are, but it is not allowed,” he said. “There are plenty of reasons we don’t like it, but ultimately, it is for the safety of those on our streets.”
Meyers said the police have been dealing with the same group of solicitors for years, but they have been addressing the problem more aggressively since summer began.
Extra patrol officers have been assigned to the area at times when the department usually fields the most complaints, but Meyers said the group of solicitors is “sneaky.”
“They don’t have scheduled times. All of a sudden, they just show up. It is hard to detect unless we have one of our guys sitting on that corner,” he said.
Which, is why Brolley, Meyers and Kifowit are encouraging residents to do their part by calling the police department non-emergency number, 630-897-8707, when the solicitors are spotted.
Meyers said the solicitors get one warning before they are arrested for breaking both local and state laws.
“The warnings are all out there now, and anyone who comes back will be arrested,” he said. “We think we do have the problem solved, but they could show up again tomorrow.”