Conyers residents can expect fewer unexpected visitors now that the city will require solicitors claiming to be seeking charitable donations first pass a background check before knocking on doors.
The city's charitable solicitations ordinance has been strengthened in an effort to reduce door-to-door solicitations. The changes to the ordinance are not meant to affect reputable, community-based fundraising by organizations such as schools, nonprofit agencies and civic groups that generally do not knock on doors to raise funds. The ordinance does intend to protect the general public by establishing uniform rules and regulations.
"I feel like if we are going to permit it, we need to do the very best we can to protect the people who are going to open the door with the confidence that we know who it is that is ringing their door bell or knocking on their door," Conyers Police Chief Gene Wilson told city council members during the council meeting Wednesday. "We are going to use some sense in this. We are not going to take it overboard. But what we want do is protect the people, especially in their homes and in their neighborhoods."
Applicants seeking a charitable solicitations permit will be required to submit the name and address of the executive officer of the charitable organization and the purpose of the fundraising. The police department will conduct criminal background checks and fingerprinting before issuing a permit.
Chief Wilson said CPD received a call this week about a group of solicitors canvassing a local neighborhood to raise money for what they said was the cancer foundation. Upon investigation, authorities learned the foundation had received numerous complaints about the subjects falsely using the foundation's name and the solicitors were arrested.
Council members also adopted an ordinance Wednesday to exempt payment of occupations taxes and peddlers' permit fees for disabled veterans and the blind. The ordinance also waives fees for conducting a business or practicing a profession for disabled veterans and blind persons.