Maryland Police Dept. To Live Tweet Prostitution Vice Stings

from the you're-not-helping dept

Prostitution, they say, is the oldest of professions, which sort of has to be bullshit, because if selling sex was the first job ever, how could anyone ever pay for the sex? But I digress. Even if it isn't the oldest profession, it certainly has a grand tradition of being used to whip up moral panics, such as when Congress freaked the hell out when they discovered, gasp, prostitutes can use Twitter! Who'd have thought? (Doesn't syphilis make your thumbs fall off or something?) In any case, we've also recently seen that some police departments mistakenly believe that they too should be peddling themselves on social media, never mind how little they think through their campaigns.

But where prostitution and police using social media intersect results in the really terrible idea one Maryland department had to live-tweet/blog police prostitution stings. From the department's own blog:

We won't tell you when or where, other than it's somewhere in the county sometime next week. The PGPD's Vice Unit will conduct a prostitution sting that targets those soliciting prostitutes and we'll tweet it out as it happens. From the ads to the arrests, we'll show you how the PGPD is battling the oldest profession. Suspect photos and information will be tweeted. We're using this progressive, and what we believe unprecedented, social media tactic to warn any potential participants that this type of criminal behavior is not welcome in Prince George's County. You can follow @PGPDNews and search #PGPDVice as we take you along for the takedowns.
Prostitution is undoubtedly a complex subject, but one where many people feel that a hardline legal approach to it is inappropriate. In some places in this country, it isn't even illegal. Where it still is illegal, many social workers will advocate a softer approach than shaming the hell out of everyone and throwing the book at hookers. That's what we've been doing all this time, after all, and it hasn't fixed a damned thing.

Also, police departments are not in the damned entertainment business. That last line on their post, about taking the public along "for the takedowns"? Screw them. Do your jobs, make things as safe as you possibly can, and leave the entertaining to the professionals. Posting names, never mind pictures, directly from the police of the accused is not fun, it isn't entertaining, and it sure as hell ain't justice. And I'm not the only one that thinks so.
But they then decided it was a good idea to live-tweet the sting as it was happening — which would include taking photos of suspects and posting them on Twitter — using the hashtag #PGPDVice. It's mystifying that the police would think that live-tweeting a sting would get them any good publicity. After all, it was just last week that the New York Police Department saw its attempt at Twitter outreach go terribly, when they tried to start the hashtag #myNYPD to get pictures of people hanging out with the cops and instead got inundated with stories of people who had been targeted by stop-and-frisk and racial profiling.
If you must attack prostitutes and their johns, at least try to keep a bit of the dignity of your profession while you're at it. You keep policing everyone, and I'll handle the entertainment bit.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    We're using this progressive, and what we believe unprecedented, social media tactic

    Protip: sometimes things are unprecedented because they are a terrible idea to begin with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    rw (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:32pm

    Did we lose the "innocent until 'proven' guilty" or are we just skipping the judicial system now days?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:37pm

    context matters

    the portions of the story you quoted expressly say they are going after the John's, not the sex workers. Yet in your rant you claim they will be posting pictures of BOTH groups.

    That's akin to you're whipping up your own moral panic by glossing over very important details.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    Re:

    it's a new tech they're working on. It's an add-on to Google Glass for Officers called 'iJudge'...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:40pm

    Re: context matters

    Actually, the problem is that in the rush to picture perps on Twitter, some collateral imaging damage is not unlikely.

    You know, that and the fact that their original blog post announcing this showed a woman in handcuffs. But, hey, why let inconvenient facts get in the way of a good rant? Carry on, good buddy!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Roger Strong (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:42pm

    Lesson learned:

    Forgo the payment and ask the johns to donate to your SuperPAC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:54pm

    Out of curiosity...

    What's their stance on people taking pictures/videos of them? Surely they wouldn't be so hypocritical as to object to people recording their activities, and then turn aright around and plaster the names and face of people merely accused of crimes in such a way as to imply that they're already guilty, right?

    Oh, right...

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100420/1041329109.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    Screw them. Do your jobs, make things as safe as you possibly can, and leave the entertaining to the professionals.

    Really? What happened to the Techdirt mantra: "Everyone is a content creator". I guess that only applies to content you approve of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Baron von Robber, May 2nd, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re:

    iJudge Dredd?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    That One Guy (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    When that 'content' can screw over someone, potentially for life, before they even see a court-room, then yeah, it's not the sort of 'content' they should be making public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    Wish I was there..

    Calling all frats... This is a perfect flash mob/photo bombing opportunity.. Let's get 50 guys to show up in police uniform; 30 in Ted Kennedy masks; background bombers with Clinton, guy Fawkes... Let's make a real event out of it...post the vids and pics on a rating site...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 2:20pm

    Re: context matters

    the portions of the story you quoted expressly say they are going after the John's, not the sex workers. Yet in your rant you claim they will be posting pictures of BOTH groups.

    In the PD's *own tweet* about it, they showed a photo of them arresting a prostitute (not the john). Looks like they've now deleted it though. Either way, it suggested they were going to post photos of the prostitutes too...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: context matters

    So the fact that something that isn't there now (i.e. the original picture) somehow relates when it isn't mentioned in the blog post here? Hard to let facts that aren't known get in ones way isn't it?

    And the collateral image damage may be a reasonable issue, it clearly isn't what's mentioned or intended.

    I'm as appalled by the PD plans as anyone, but lets not jump off in directions that aren't readily available to the reader of the post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Matthew (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 2:42pm

    Plan:

    Step 1, Set alert for #PGPDVice.
    Step 2, Register new twitter handle that seems plausibly official.
    Step 3, Prepare a bunch of celeb, politician, animal, clown, etc. photos for upload.*
    Step 4, When the alert goes off, make sure that hashtag is trending like crazy.

    * This looks like a good source for pics: http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/sites/PoliceDepartment/AboutUs/Pages/default.aspx

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Scote, May 2nd, 2014 @ 2:53pm

    I have no problem with this as long as they are *consistent* about it.

    I have no problem with this as long as they are *consistent* about it. So, since they are so confident that publicly implying guilt by accusation is the way to go I'm sure they will be live tweeting every complaint filed against officers in the department and all internal affairs interviews and investigations. I'm sure, based on their willingness to expose accused johns and prostitutes live tweeted photos, that they'll be behind that 100%

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Applesauce, May 2nd, 2014 @ 2:56pm

    This will be a great success.

    I'm sure this will turn out well for the police. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2014 @ 3:26pm

    Great way to try and influence the future jury. In many cases the judge tells the jury that it is sequestered so as not to be influenced by the outside news stories.

    Near as I can tell this is the same tactics used by the copywrong groups to try and instill the idea that anyone they bust is automatically guilty prior to any sort of jury being rounded up. How long till some lawyer uses that as attempting to influence the court prior to the case being heard?

    Being tried in the court of public opinion doesn't sound all that fair. (even with newspapers)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), May 2nd, 2014 @ 5:49pm

    to answer your question...

    "Prostitution, they say, is the oldest of professions, which sort of has to be bullshit, because if selling sex was the first job ever, how could anyone ever pay for the sex? "

    wimpy: i'll gladly pay you tuesday...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    anonymous coward, May 2nd, 2014 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Out of curiosity...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2014 @ 9:46pm

    Re: context matters

    Accused Johns. These people have not been convicted of any crime and tweeting their pictures only serves to embarrass and publicly shame them regardless of if the cases ever go to trial.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    OrganizedThoughtCrime (profile), May 3rd, 2014 @ 4:29am

    Re: Re: Re: context matters

    As others have said, the PGPD did originally claim to be going after the prostitutes directly, then changed their story once it started getting picked up. This pattern of going after prostitutes at least as much as the 'johns' is consistent with their previous 'busts'.

    See this, as well as the subsequent comment thread for additional info.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 4th, 2014 @ 6:27am

    It always will freak out law abiding cops: two consenting adults having sex. That's worst then Goldman Sucks banking fraud.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Gaming_Geek (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 5:27am

    I wonder how many of these possible picture postings will turn into blackmail on local officials and such?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 5th, 2014 @ 5:58am

    Prostitution should be legal. By legalizing it the State can provide the girls (and guys btw) the protection and the social support other workers enjoy. There will always be demand, criminalizing the thing just turns these professionals into victims.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re:

    TPP shouldn't be public?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 8:39am

    Gotta love those PR folks in law enforcement. Now, what if the reply to that was something like this:

    We won't tell you when or where, other than it's somewhere in the county sometime next week. The citizens of the United States will conduct a police corruption sting that targets those depriving citizens of their rights without due process and under color of authority and we'll tweet it out as it happens. From the ads to the (lack of) arrests, we'll show you how the people are left to battle corruption that continues to spiral out of control. Suspect photos and information will be tweeted. We're using this progressive, and what we believe unprecedented, social media tactic to warn any potential bad cops that this type of criminal behavior is not welcome in anywhere in the country. You can follow #Filmyoufuckersrightback and search #Fairenough-wefilmyoutoo as we take you along for the takedowns.

    You know, just to make sure EVERYBODY'S following the rules...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2014 @ 7:33pm

    Re:

    Traditional perp-walking just isn't effective for "crimes' like prostitution, so the police are having to do the media's part of it too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, May 6th, 2014 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That would screw US over for life.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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