Pittsburgh police arrest dozens of suspected customers of prostitutes
Pittsburgh police arrested three dozen suspected customers of prostitutes during a monthlong undercover operation, authorities said Tuesday.
One suspect, a Hill District man, is accused of trying to pay for sex with his 7-month-old son in the car, inches from a loaded firearm. He is awaiting trial for drug possession, patronizing a prostitute and child endangerment. Authorities would not release all the names of those they charged, most with misdemeanors.
“It becomes important because if you just keep picking up the girls, you don't affect the demand,” said Sgt. Cristyn Zett, who heads the vice squad. “It's like the drug trade. You grab a few, and a few pop up, but if you don't do anything, you run into quality-of-life issues for the neighborhood.”
City police made the arrests as part of the “National Day of Johns Arrests” campaign, which is coordinated by the Cook County, Ill., Sheriff's Office. The national campaign led to 323 arrests for soliciting prostitution, according to a release from the sheriff's office.
“The goal is to highlight that stifling the demand of sex for cash is really the key to stopping this.” said Ben Breit, spokesman for the office.
In Pittsburgh, Zett said detectives questioned the men they arrested to develop strategies to combat solicitation. But she said there isn't a certain type of man who solicits prostitutes. In less than an hour on July 18, city police arrested two men from the same corner in Carrick — one a passenger in a jitney, the other a Cranberry resident.
“It cuts across race, socioeconomic lines,” Zett said. “We get guys who offer $4 or $5, and guys who have hundreds in cash in their wallets.”
Donna Williams, a block watch captain in Carrick, said prostitution and drugs are a problem in that South Hills neighborhood that residents and police are working to combat.
“When we see something like that going on, we say, ‘No, not on our street,' and they go,” Williams said. “Some of the times we've turned people in, we turned in our own police.”
Four times a year, city police put on a “johns school” for some of the men accused of patronizing prostitutes. The men hear from community members, county health department representatives and former prostitutes during the daylong class, said Sgt. Lavonnie Bickerstaff, who coordinates the program.
“We let them know it is not a victimless crime,” Bickerstaff said.
Margaret Harding is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man charged with passing counterfeit bills at Rivers Casino
- Pirates claim Ishikawa off waivers; Marte injured
- Fire at Wilkinsburg row house displaces residents
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Residents return from church to discover fire-damaged Greensburg home
- High tax could scuttle online gaming in Pa., CEO says
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- Pittsburgh singer Lee spreads love through music, charitable works
- New playhouse big success at Lower Burrell’s TryLife Center
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’
- Carnegie man sought after hammer attack, police say