All door-to-door solicitors within the city limits of Paragould, Arkansas are required to obtain a permit. The city ordinance maintains that anyone seeking a solicitor’s would be subject to and must pass a background check. The cost to obtain a permit includes a $50 filing fee and $35 for the background check. According to city clerk Andrea Williams, the background check protects those living where the solicitors operate, and could usually be completed within 24 hours of filing the application. She said the fees must be paid for each person soliciting for a company. "We don't want someone who is a registered sex offender going door-to-door where there may be children [present]," Williams said. “We check them through an outside company and our police chief before we let them have a privilege license.”
If anything suspicious turns up during the background check, Williams said she would hand the information over to police chief Todd Stovall. She said he would then advise her on how serious the offense was. According to Stovall, they receive calls “all the time complaining about a solicitor.” “If they don't see the license, people need to ask for it. They should be able to show them [their permit from the city]. If they don't have that, I'd advise not to buy from them and to call the police department. Let us tell them they need to get a license.” Those who obtain a permit are required to wear it visibly on a lanyard. Williams said the ordinance only allows solicitors to operate Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during standard time and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during daylight savings tim.
“I just want the people to know that they can call the police department if they have someone coming to their door selling anything,” Williams said. “If they don't have the proper credentials, they should have the police department check them out.” According to the ordinance, violators are subject to up to $300 in fines and/or 30 days in jail. Permits can also be revoked for reasons including fraud, misrepresentation, or conducting business in an unlawful manner. “We do refuse people," Stovall said. "If they do have the license, we've checked them and feel that they're safe for the community.”
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