Oneida County Department of Social Services Launches Panhandling Outreach Program

DSS caseworkers team up with Utica Police Department to provide assistance

The Oneida County Department of Social Services launched an outreach operation this morning to assess the needs of panhandlers throughout the City of Utica and help align them with the proper services.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. reached out to the Utica Police Department to form joint assessment teams that will consist of a county DSS caseworker and Utica Police officer.

The first patrol began Thursday morning at 9 a.m. with the team interviewing individuals who have been asking for money in highly visible, highly-traveled areas such as the intersection of John and Oriskany streets.

“In the spirit of the proactive approach we take to these types of situations on a daily basis, we reached out the Utica Police Department to address this issue in a comprehensive and compassionate manner,” Picente said. “Oneida County has a multitude of services that can provide assistance to those in our community who are in need. We want to do all we can to assist these individuals while also ensuring their safety, as well as the safety of the motorists traveling these high-traffic areas.”

The assessment teams will repeat their outreach patrols every two weeks in order to continually monitor the situation and assist those who are in need.

In an effort to discourage this behavior and ensure the safety of the individuals and the passing motorists, Oneida County and the Utica Police Department are asking the public to consider making a charitable contribution to an organization in the city which helps feed, clothe and assist those in need rather than giving money directly to the individuals soliciting.