APD launches prostitution Web site

The Asheville Police Department has launched a new online police blotter where they will post the photos of individuals arrested on prostitution charges. The photos, names, charges and cities of residence of individuals arrested for prostitution (including the “johns,” as they are called) will be displayed on the site and on the Asheville Channel’s Bulletin Board (on Charter cable channel 11).

Web of shame: On this new Web site, the APD publishes the names and photos of individuals charged — but not yet convicted — for prostitution.

The move comes after five undercover prostitution sting operations conducted Jan. 12 through Feb. 1, which resulted in 34 arrests, according to APD Officer Steve Riddle. The individuals that will be displayed on the Web site were charged during the sting operation, he said, but are still awaiting trial. Prostitution, a Class I misdemeanor, often results in court costs and a fine rather than jail time, according to Riddle, so broadcasting the photos is meant to be a deterrent to repeat offenders.

“People say prostitution is a victimless crime, but I don’t think that’s true,” he told Xpress. “Number one, we have this prostitution activity in residential neighborhoods. And a lot of these girls have diseases like hepatitis and HIV, and these guys are taking it home to their families.”

According to an APD press release, prostitution is linked with drug activity and “associated crimes, such as disorderly conduct, increased noise and traffic and the loss of business to merchants.” Women who engage in prostitution, the release states, are often addicted to drugs and suffer both mental and physical violence. Asked whether broadcasting prostitute’s names and faces might open the door to more violence directed toward them, Riddle replied, “No, I don’t think there’s a concern there.”

But Katy Parker, legal director of the North Carolina ACLU in Raleigh, finds the program questionable. “The rule is, you cannot punish some one who has not been convicted, under the 14th Amendment,” says Parker. “There is a good argument that this would constitute punishment prior to trial.” In Winston-Salem, a similar program was launched, Parker notes, but after a round of discussions with the ACLU, the Winston-Salem Police Department decided to broadcast the names and photos only of individuals already convicted on prostitution charges.

The APD release also noted that police have started sending cards to the owners of vehicles that were spotted cruising in areas known for high prostitution and drug activity. “If we observe a vehicle in a prostitution area or a drug area or public housing area … ‘doing the loop,’ as we call it, we send a card to the registered owner. It says, your vehicle was observed in a high crime area. It’s basically to let them know that, hey, we’re watching,” says Riddle.

Riddle says he does not know of plans to disseminate personal information about individuals charged for crimes other than prostitution in the online police blotter.

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6 thoughts on “APD launches prostitution Web site

  1. nam veteran

    I applaud the APD for doing something about this problem. Last summer,whenever I drove on French Broad by the projects and housing authority, I’d see prostitutes…in broad daylight. Their pimps were close by with brown bag bottles in their hands. I called my observations in every time. Finally they put a stop to it because I don’t see them anymore brazenly trying to sell their “wares”.

    So anyone who wants to stop illegal activity in your neighborhood, know this. ALL reports are written up as statistics in the police department. If enough complaints are received, then patrols are more frequent in those areas, and the crime will decrease of stop all together.

  2. brebro

    Right on, if you want to pay for sex, do it with jewelry; or at least dinner and movie, but cash is downright obscene.

  3. Rob Close

    innocent until proven guilty? hello? anyone who has been arrested but not convicted has a strong lawsuit for wrongful damages, and if they win, it’ll be the taxpayers who lose.

  4. nam veteran

    Rob, what the APD is doing is not illegal. I can assure you they checked with the city attorney before doing what they have done. Newspapers publish the names of people arrested for various crimes…before conviction. So why not a website?

    Street prostitution is one of those things that appears victimless on the surface, but is related to other crimes. Like drugs, human trafficking, theft, violence. Not to mention the diseases. The APD is doing the John’s a favor by interfering with their pursuit of street walkers. This way they may stop before they get a disease that they take home, or get robbed, etc.

  5. Johnny

    How about the APD being aggressive in posting the names and pictures of officers accused of wrongdoing of some kind? It could be a “here’s the bad cop website”.

    Obviously that’s a stupid idea.

    How about the APD posting the names and photos of landowners and developers who are accused of poor erosion control practices? You see it everywhere. This would be regularly advertised as the being the “bad developer website”.

    Also maybe not a good idea.

    Sure, prostitution perhaps ought to be illegal, but this photo-posting idea is also wrong unless we post the photos of every person arrested for anything —- and that’s not the type of community I care to live in.

    Not the right approach.

  6. Nick from Avvo

    Will a picture of Deven Trabosh and home beautiful home be appearing on this website? Nevermind, she’s just selling “her heart.”

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