Tucson Police Use Education to Drive Away Prostitution - Tucson News Now

Tucson Police Use Education to Drive Away Prostitution

By J.D. Wallace, News 13 Reporter

Posted 5/23/04


It's no secret that prostitutes can usually be found alongOracle Road from Speedway Boulevard to Prince Road.  But instead of arresting prostitutes, or the men soliciting sex from them, called johns, Tucson Police are trying a new approach, and people who live in the area hope it will bring some change.


"I think what we'd like to see as a neighborhood is, number one, the prostitutes to go away, but, number two, and maybe more importantly, that their customers stop coming here,” ” said Bill DeVinney, who is in his third term as president of the Miracle Manor Neighborhood Association


DeVinney will tell you that in his 20 years in Miracle Manor Neighborhood, prostitution near Oracle Road has always been a problem.  The use of undercover officers by Tucson Police, like the one seen in the picture to the left of this article, to catch johns is nothing new; however, what police are doing with the johns this time is new.


"But an arrest solely for the purposes of loitering or solicitation is not the intent of this program, which is to make contact with the john and to raise their awareness through this educational program on certain issues," said Capt. Clay Kidd, of the Tucson Police Department’s Operations Division West.


Those issues being the variety of sexual diseases prostitute carry, the damage being caught can do to the man's reputation, and the range of other crimes prostitution brings to a neighborhood.  The program, called Safety Through Deterrence, or STD, educates johns about these problems and aims to drive down the demand for prostitutes.


"We're out to make a difference in the quality of life in this area,” Kidd said.  “And we know that prostitution-related crimes lower the quality of life in the area, so we can’t just do this for a couple days then go away and do something else."


"The problem with prostitutes primarily is they are involved in drugs, and that usually leads to other things such as burglaries, assaults, murders, a whole gamut of crimes," DeVinney said.


It's too early to tell if STD is working.  DeVinney knows prostitution in his neighborhood won't go away overnight; however, he just hopes to some results soon.


"We don't want this neighborhood or any of the neighborhoods along the Oracle corridor to be thought of as the place to go to look for prostitutes," DeVinney said.


Police aren't sure how long the STD program will last yet, but after five weeks so far, at least 217 men have been contacted.  Police say they can reach a lot more people by simply giving them literature to educate them, instead of arresting them and then trying to convict them.  Nevertheless, if these same men are stopped again for the same reason, Tucson Police say they'll arrest the men.


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