Aggressive panhandler arrested downtown with new ordinance.

Panama City- A transient man was arrested in Panama City on Tuesday after trying to solicit money from drivers in the downtown area.

This is the first arrest related to the updated aggressive panhandling ordinance since it passed in May.

The man arrested is Robert Sweatt Junior. He’s no stranger to law enforcement.
Police officials say he’s been arrested twice before for soliciting money.
According to the arrest report, law enforcement officials saw Sweatt on the curb of 11th street holding a sign reading ‘homeless, hungry, and help.’
He was also trying to flag down drivers to ask for money.
According to officials, state law prohibits soliciting money from drivers because it can pose a safety threat.

Police officials say the combination of defined restrictions plus support from the community have made a drastic change in the number of homeless-related calls.

“It’s not the issue it was a year ago. We have seen a sharp decline in the complaints that we receive from business owners or people who come downtown to shop,” said Sergeant Christopher Edmundson of the Panama City Police Department.

Edmundson says the addition of a downtown Panama City substation has also helped in the number of calls.


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