Janesville police launch initiative to curb prostitution
Janesville officers to contact sex workers via ads, offer help
A recent case is prompting Janesville police to work on new solutions to curb an old problem. That problem is prostitution.
"With some of the other things we have going on this isn't quite as high of a priority but it has become a higher priority," said Deputy Chief Dan Davis.
It comes after Janesville police saved a 16-year-old girl from a prostitution ring. She had run away from her Walworth County home and met a couple at a party who then forced her into prostitution.
Last week Patrick Cooper, 27, and Erica White, 26, were arrested for sexual exploitation of a child. Police said both white and the juvenile were used as prostitutes.
Janesville police are still in the planning stages of creating a program to overtly reach out to prostitutes without the fear of prosecution to connect with resources and hopefully put them out of business.
Long gone are the days when prostitutes stood on street corners. Now folks are surfing for sex online "We have identified some females who are advertising online and prostituting themselves," said Davis.
Police have been compiling data for months and have identified about a dozen known prostitutes. "If we encounter a female or females who we believe we can connect with some services that may help them pursue a more legal lifestyle then we'll certainly try and connect them with those services," said Davis.
It may be that the world's oldest profession is also one of the most dangerous. "It's really scary to make that change and to get out of what is a really hard life and there are resources and people waiting to help you," said Ali B. Haim, Crisis Services director for the Rock County YWCA.
Haim said sex workers are at a higher risk of being victims of other crimes. Although they aren't directly working with the police on this initiative they are already helping women who are trying to escape the sex trade.
"We'll connect them with housing resources counseling resources, get them food and help them meet their most basic necessities," she said. Since most prostitutes post their contact information online, police said it will be easy to contact them and offer help.
"At this point we're going to focus on the prostitutes, and again we're sending a message and it's very overt and it is not geared toward arrest." No timeline has been set as to when they plan to start the program.
The YWCA has a 24-hour crisis hotline for women needing help that number is (608) 752-2583.
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