Village of Oak Brook, Illinois
January 20, 2021
The Police Department has received repeated complaints over the last six months due to the increase in panhandlers on street corners soliciting money in our community.
While I understand the concerns of our residents and visitors, and agree with many of them, the Police Department has been put in an unfortunate position of not having the authority to enforce the laws as they are pertaining to panhandling currently on the books. A law suit was filed in Federal court by the ACLU on behalf of two homeless persons stating that their rights to free speech were being infringed upon by the enforcement of these panhandling laws by the police.
The States Attorney as well as municipal liability carriers gave direction months ago for the police to refrain from enforcement while the case wound its way through the courts. That has led to a proliferation of these activities throughout the metropolitan area. On January 14, 2021 A federal judge has permanently banned Illinois’ panhandling law from being enforced on the basis the statute violates the First Amendment. The Federal Court of the Northern District of Illinois issued an Injunction order forbidding state law or local ordinances on panhandling from being enforced.
The Oak Brook Police Department understands the frustration and the potential traffic safety hazards this may create but until a legal remedy can be resolved, the police department will not be responding to complaints about panhandlers on the roadway unless there is an articulated safety concern for the individual. Mere presence will not serve as a reason to believe there is a safety concern.