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Village looks to change law on peddling and soliciting

— The Skaneateles Village Board of Trustees agreed last week to change the local law regarding peddling and soliciting from issuing permits for a fee to having peddlers and solicitors register at no charge with the police department.

The change, made at the urging of Police Chief Lloyd Perkins during the July 12 board meeting, is intended to better protect residents from unwanted solicitors and also to protect the village from certain liability issues that could arise under the current code.

“We don’t want to say someone can or cannot solicit, but we will know who they are [with registration] if problems arise,” Perkins told the board. “We need to get away from issuing a legal permit.”

The concern, Perkins said, is that issuing a “permit” implies that the village has thoroughly investigated potential solicitors and peddlers and therefore is assuring resident safety when a permit is issued.

This is not the case, Perkins said.

Currently, under chapter 149 of village code, any person wishing to solicit or peddle within the village applies at the village office, pays a small fee and gives copies of personal identification, typically a driver’s license and social security number. That information is then submitted to the police department for a background check.

The background check, however, is not as thorough as it sounds. The village police are limited to running names through the local sex offender registry and the regional Criminal History Arrest Incident Reporting System. Neither of these databases is always up-to-date, and neither reveals any person’s criminal history that outside the Central New York region, Perkins said. A criminal investigation must be underway before a thorough criminal history check can be initiated, he explained.

“If they have a criminal record out of state, we have no way of knowing it,” he told the board. “We don’t really get a good idea of who these people are.”

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