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Dallas police to change panhandling policy

DALLAS (AP) - Dallas police are changing the way they enforce the city's panhandling ordinances after concerns involving free speech.

WFAA-TV reports that officers will no longer issue panhandling citations to people soliciting in public areas such as sidewalks. Police will instead take action only if those people are violating other laws, like disorderly conduct rules.

Police Chief Renee Hall says Dallas can't treat the homeless differently than other groups without risking legal action.

The move follows the police department's previous aggressive efforts to fight panhandling on Dallas' sidewalks downtown and in entertainment districts.

Philip Kingston says he and other City Council members should have been brief before police decided to roll back enforcement of the ordinance. The president of the Dallas Police Association also was critical of the change, saying it'll confuse officers about what they're allowed to do.

Information from: WFAA-TV, http://www.wfaa.com

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