Solicitors in Johnson County face new requirements

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Johnson County (June 24, 2015) – Door-to-door solicitors in Johnson County are now facing some new requirements and tighter restrictions.

This week, Johnson County Commissioners unanimously passed a new version of the county’s ordinance regarding peddlers, canvassers and transient merchants.  The old ordinance had been in place since 1982.

The new rules for unincorporated areas of Johnson county include language that would give Johnson County Sheriff Deputies the authority to arrest a solicitor who ignores a “no soliciting” sign placed near a homeowner’s door.

However, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said that would only be a last resort, and is highly unlikely.

“The one thing we are not out here to do is arrest peddlers,” Cox said.  “What we want everybody to do is play by the rules.”

The rule changes will likely have the most effect include the way solicitors obtain permits to sell products or services door to door.  In the past, those permits could be obtained at the county auditors office.  Under the new ordinance, solicitors will go to the Sheriff’s Department to get a permit.  The process will require a criminal background check.  Anyone knocking on doors will be required to carry one of the permits, which comes in the form of a photo I.D.

The new I.D. system could cut down on a practice many homeowners find annoying and sometimes suspicious.  Cox says his department gets frequent complaints about adults who come in from out of town and drop of multiple teens to sell items in neighborhoods.  While the person leading the group may have a soliciting permit, each of the teens may not.

“So therefore, you have a young person floating around from noon until 5 o’clock in the afternoon,” Cox said.

Residents who are wary of scams and burglaries often report the teens as suspicious.  Cox hopes the new I.D. system will help clarity who is a legitimate solicitor and who isn’t.

“I think it’s probably a great idea,” said Johnson County resident Gary Weinbrecht.  “It’s definitely going to put people through a process that needs to happen to at least do a background check and so on.”

Even if a solicitor has a valid soliciting permit, homeowners still have the right to ask them to leave their property at any time.  If a solicitor refuses to leave, that’s when police could likely respond to a call.

The new ordinance only applies to unincorporated areas of Johnson County, like some neighborhoods in White River Township.  Cities like Greenwood and Franklin have their own local ordinances.  The ordinance took effect immediately upon its passage this week.

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