This is the first of a multipart series on the topic.
My ability to speak on this topic is due to my participation in the Southeast Seminole Heights Neighborhood Watch, The Exercise Club, and SESH NW Vehicle Patrol and for moderating the Prostitution Task Force (for which I and others did extensive research.)
To deal with this problem requires cooperation and commitment on the part of the residents.
There are 5 core strategies in dealing with the prostitutes and their Johns.
- Economic change of the community
These strategies requires a commitment on the part of the residents, where they need to become part of the system instead of relying on the system. This is the essential in fact of community policing. The community has a role in effective policing.
The most basic element is observing and reporting the behavior. To effectively deal with any criminal problem, the police need information about the problem. As there are only so many police out there, they are limited in what they see. It is crucial that residents provide that information. You are in effect supplying criminal intelligence to the police. As part of this you need to make sure you are reliable in the information you provide. Also the police are often more effective in dealing with patterns rather than individual acts. So everytime you see prostitution activity, report it to the TPD non-emergency line 231-6130. Provide detailed description of what is going and who is doing it, including the name of the persons involved if you have it. Report it as you see it rather than wait till later. Describe what the person looks like, what they are wearing, what side of the street they are on which direction they are headed and specifically what they are doing. Then ask for an event number. That event number ensures it is entered into the TPD system.
Getting accurate descriptions takes some practice, especially if you decide something is suspicious for criminal activity after you pass the person by. I recommend 3 things. 1. Keep a pad and paper handy to where ever you might be when you observe criminal activity. For example by a particular window in your house. This way you can write things down instead of relying on memory as you call TPD. Don’t forget to document the time. 2. Read over material provided by police/neighborhood watch on describing people . 3. Practice describing people. Make a game out of it and observe someone, document what they look like and then see if it matches. This is a game your children can learn, which might help them later in the event they become a witness to a crime. Sometimes if I see something that might be suspicious I will run the description in my head as I decide whether it is truly suspicious and needs to be reported.
The more you report the incidents two things occur: TPD pays greater attention to the problem because they have an increase numbers for that area. Every day TPD looks over data maps to see what reported crimes are occurring where and they change their tactics to deal with those changes in crime. Secondly they have data to work on to fight the problem, they know when and where they can send undercover police to act as prostitutes and arrest the Johns or to pretend to be Johns and arrest prostitutes. They can also step up field interviews. This might pick up people who have warrants and it also disrupts business.
If you do not report it, it will not get dealt with. If you do not report it, you are part of the problem.
The next post will be on getting more information in advance on the actors in these crimes, to provide to police even more accurate information.