In 2008 Flagstaff police took on a project called "Operation 40" to address what it calls "quality of life" issues in Flagstaff. The project was named for the inexpensive 40 ounce beverages that were commonly associated with what some would consider minor crimes. Police say it is these minor crimes - drinking in public, loitering to beg - that often lead to major crimes. And statistics show the operation worked to reduce those major crimes.
The ACLU said panhandling in public places is protected under the First Amendment. In a written statement the City of Flagstaff said the city council will consider a new ordinance that respects free speech but protects citizens from aggressive behaviors.