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.