Panhandler calls himself traffic cop

Published On: Apr 17 2013 07:12:50 AM HST

One of Albuquerque's many panhandlers said he's doing good as he asks drivers to spare some change; but police said what he's doing is still against the law.

Panhandling is illegal in Albuquerque, but Paul Jackson argued that he's helping people.  The Albuquerque resident said panhandling is his part-time job.

"(It's) basically what I do to supplement my income," Jackson said.

After he spends his day recycling cans, Jackson heads to the corner of Comanche and Interstate 25 to ask for a handout. He said he also works as a quasi traffic cop.

"That's what I do. I prevent accidents as best I can," Jackson said.

Action 7 News caught him stopping a driver who almost went the wrong way onto the interstate. He then calmly gave directions and helped the driver turn the car around. But that's not all.

"I help people when they're broken down, flat tire, when there's something stuck under their car," Jackson said. 

According to a city ordinance signed back in 2004, standing at an intersection and asking drivers for money is prohibited.

It's not an uncommon sight., though. Driving around the Duke City panhandler after panhandler can be seen standing at corners.

A spokesperson for Albuquerque police said the city is enforcing the ordinance on a case by case basis. Some officers arrest panhandlers, others just take away their signs soliciting money, and ask them to move along.

Jay Abita, who was standing near Central asking for cash, said he's not easily deterred by police.

"I leave and then try to come back some other time," Abita said. 

Abita said he makes, on average, around $15 a day.

Meanwhile, over in Northeast Albuquerque, Jackson said he'll continue to ask drivers to spare some change, but only if it doesn't mean they'll be breaking any traffic laws. He said he turns down money when the light is green.

"Traffic is flowing and you don't want to stop traffic," Jackson said.


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