Victory: Marlyand Police Department Planning To Tweet Arrests Of A Vice Sting Arrests Nobody

from the mission-accomplished dept

We had just discussed one Maryland police department's stupid plan to tweet out the arrests made during prostitution stings the other day. I had several problems with the plan, including that the police offering up pictures of the accused, not convicted, "johns" seemed like an overreach. Add to that a somewhat confusing use of pictures in their blog announcement making it unclear as to whether the accused prostitutes would be put on public display, not to mention the horrified rebuke of some social workers, and this whole thing looked like a poor plan that should be squashed. But it wasn't squashed. The department went forward with the sting-to-be-tweeted. So how did it work out?

It was a complete and total success, by which I mean that they arrested absolutely nobody. I'm going to tell you how the department spun this less-is-more outcome, but you've probably already guessed.

"I've participated in hundreds of stings, and I've never seen what happened today. By advertising this days ago, we wanted to put johns on notice to not come to Prince George's County," Dave Coleman, head of the county's Vice Intelligence Unit, said in a statement. "That message was heard loud and clear. We just put a dent in the human trafficking business without making one arrest."
Yup, they're going with the idea that this widely-mocked threat to tweet out pictures is what kept away everyone who might be seeking a prostitute on the day of the sting. It's an interesting theory, which relies on the idea that somehow getting your picture tweeted by a handle followed by a grand total of twelve-thousand people in the whole wide world was somehow more of a deterrent than getting arrested in the first place. There is such a thing as social shaming, but there's also such a thing as having to go to jail, and I'll leave it to you to figure out which would be worse for most people.

On top of that faulty logic, this idea that declaring victory over human trafficking because nobody showed up to your advertised whores-as-bait party is the stupidest thing since, oh, I don't know...



Yeah, that sounds about right. Some experts agree.

Darby Hickey, an activist who promotes sex workers' rights and spoke to me for our piece last week told me that the department is delusional.

"If 'putting a dent in the human trafficking business' was as easy as threatening to live tweet, imagine what a better world we'd live in," Hickey wrote in an email to me. "I'm glad no one was arrested and I think it was a good moment for conversations about the need to change the approach to sex work, as well as recognize that even if it's still criminalized, furthering stigmatizing is not helpful but dangerous."
Or, I suppose the department could continue with this insane little experiment and plan a tweet-sting every single day for the rest of existence. Assuming they believe their own hype, they kind of have to, don't they? If this is all it takes to end prostitution and human trafficking, it'd be a crime not to, and then we'd have to put their pictures up on Twitter or something.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Big John (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 2:28pm

    Feeling satisfied if a bit sleepy...

    I saw the cops, they had donut hangovers and were sleeping it off in their "Un-Marked" cars.

    So I picked me up some ho's and got my do-nut off.

    I shoulda live tweeted the party with Windy Wendy the tweak'n working girl, but I was getti'n busy if you know what I mean...

    Man I love Prince George's County!!! best strange this side of the Atlantic!

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    cryophallion, May 8th, 2014 @ 2:30pm

    careful they are clothed

    I'd just live to see them tweet a picture that has a wardrobe malfunction and see the police department arrested under revenge porn laws. Now THAT would be worth a special report..

     

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

  3.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 2:37pm

    It's an interesting theory, which relies on the idea that somehow getting your picture tweeted by a handle followed by a grand total of twelve-thousand people in the whole wide world was somehow more of a deterrent than getting arrested in the first place.

    It's not "twelve thousand people in the whole wide world," though. The majority of those people aren't "in the whole wide world;" they're locals. The idea that your neighbor, your coworkers (or boss!) or even a relative might find out--that is a heck of a deterrent, and don't even try and say it's not.

     

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

  4.  
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    Gabriel J. Michael (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    It's not just Maryland, it's Prince George's County

    You know, the county where officers lie about a brutality incident that was caught on video, and the judge presiding over the case was married to an officer with a similar history of brutality.

    The county that was for several years under a DoJ consent decree.

    Hell, they even beat up other police officers.

    Par for the course. I went to the University of Maryland. PG County police love to break out the riot gear, including pepper balls which they used to shoot people in the face. They often "couldn't find" video recordings for investigations. Maybe they'll do everyone a favor and stay on Twitter.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 2:43pm

    Re: It's not just Maryland, it's Prince George's County

    What would have been funny would have been if people had gone looking for where they were operating and started live tweeting that.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 2:48pm

    I solved genocide!

    I held a tweeted sting operation people planning genocide. Nobody came so I solved it clearly!

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 2:51pm

    Question:

    Did any 'working ladies' show up?

    Or did they decide to take the night off?

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Trevor, May 8th, 2014 @ 3:44pm

    Simpsons

    Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
    Homer: Oh, how does it work?
    Lisa: It doesn't work. It's just a stupid rock. But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
    Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock...

     

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

  9.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 8th, 2014 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Question:

    "Or did they decide to take the night off?"

    They went to the next block over, along with everyone else.

     

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

  10.  
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    Case, May 8th, 2014 @ 5:11pm

    "human trafficking"?

    What I'm always wondering when lawmakers and -enforcers claim they're only "combating human trafficking"...why do the supposed trafficking victims get shamed in public and even charged with a crime? See their very own site on a previous sting: http://pgpolice.blogspot.de/2012/08/college-park-prostitution-sting.html
    Shouldn't those poor women who have just been freed from horrific enslavement be protected?

    If I wouldn't be so convinced of the noble intentions of all involved, I could get the impression they're just a bunch of impudent moral guardians who think the unchaste have to be locked up for their own good...

     

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

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2014 @ 6:19pm

    The police have a point. We all know how Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" more or less much put an end to grown men going online and trying to hook up with teenage boys and girls, so why wouldn't tweeting pictures of men seeking adult prostitutes have the same effect?

     

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

  12.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 9th, 2014 @ 4:42am

    They found the panacea to all humanity issues!!! Start tweeting about the NSA unconstitutional mass surveillance now, it'll go away if we do it! Or better yet, tweet hunger away of the world! /derp

     

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

  13.  
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    Pragmatic, May 9th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    Prostitution is a demand-side issue. It'll (bump and) grind to a halt when people stop wanting it. Good luck with that.

    Tax and regulate it, already!

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, May 10th, 2014 @ 5:23pm

    Re:

    Ol' Pragmatic, Mr. Tax And Regulate. What we need is LESS government interference, not MORE.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, May 10th, 2014 @ 5:26pm

    Re:

    Hey, Mr. Hansen... cheater, cheater, where'd you meet that no-good trashy ho?

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    techno, May 12th, 2014 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re:

    Well I find the IRS less intrusive and painful than police in riot gear, which then creates a criminal record that can prevent me from getting a job and becomes public knowledge to the entire neighborhood. I mean, we know the govt isn't going to give up their pound of flesh for nothing and the government likes money.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Anarchy solves those problems.

     

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


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