SEATTLE, NOV. 28 -- Seattle's new law against aggressive panhandling has gone into effect, but police reported they did not have to use it the first day of the holiday shopping season.

The ordinance, which became effective Friday, is the first of its kind in the nation. It allows police to take action against panhandlers who intimidate or obstruct passers-by, particularly older people and children, while begging.

But police officers and panhandlers said there was no trouble the first day.

Danny LaJoie, a longtime panhandler said the new ordinance does not worry him.

"I've panhandled nonaggressively," LaJoie said. "I just talk friendly to people. They're not stupid. I just talk nicely to them. And if they want to give out of the goodness of their heart, why, I thank them."

The only aggressive begging seen by Officers Jerome Craig and Duane Hendrix, who patrol the downtown area of shops, restaurants and offices, was when "we got panhandled," Hendrix said.

A belligerent street woman tried to extract money from the officers by following them after they refused her, they said. But police officers frequently are targets of such requests, and they didn't charge her.

The law is "basically a discretionary tool," Hendrix said.

Police have options in applying it: "We can book them {into jail}, give them a citation, or a warning," Craig said.

Initially, police probably will be more likely to give an oral warning or citation, Hendrix added.

Robert Willmott, spokesman for the Strand Helpers, an organization that helps feed street people, said the law goes too far in requiring that beggars keep themselves and their possessions out of the flow of traffic.

He said the law could open the way for harassment of beggars merely sitting on the ground.

"We're going to be watching it. And the first one who goes to jail and was not aggressive, we will fight it to the U.S. Supreme Court," he said.