36 female prostitutes and 15 johns, almost all of whom hail from outside the
city. (The police have not observed any male prostitutes in the area, Lieutenant Tom Cleary of Vice Crimes noted.) Two of the prostitutes were from Los Angeles, two from Las Vegas, one from San Diego, and one, oddly enough, from South Carolina. Others were from Berkeley, Oakland, Vallejo, and Sacramento. All but one of the johns were from outside San Francisco -- but none of them had made the trek from South Carolina.
Gascon repeatedly blamed San Francisco's reputation for permissiveness,
and said the police crackdown would force prostitutes, pimps, and men
looking for sex to reevaluate the risk of what they're doing. As part
of the crackdown, Gascon said, police may publicly post photographs of
johns -- an idea he bandied about earlier. In a clarification, Gascon today said this punishment would apply only to men or women who already have a prostitution charge on their
"We want to leave those more embarrassing moments for people who do not
get it," Gascon said. "It will not be intended for first-time
is a revision of Gascon's earlier plan for a gallery of johns, and one
that seems designed to minimize conflict with San Francisco's
much-imitated "John School," which is run by a local NGO. Last week, we wondered whether Gascon's shame tactics would interfere with the John School -- aka First Offenders Prostitution Program -- a one-day seminar for first-time johns that was praised by a Department of Justice report for reducing recidivism.
only a small percentage of johns are repeat offenders -- only one of the
15 johns arrested in the police operation thus far has a prior offense, Cleary
said this afternoon. This portends that San Francisco's johns gallery
seems likely to be small, and not, as we speculated, tempting fodder for shame-game radio DJs.
police plan for towing johns' cars is still in the works, however, as
is a plan to bring both prostitutes and johns in front of community
As the television cameras rolled this afternoon,
police officials, three representatives from neighborhood associations,
District Attorney Kamala Harris, and Supervisor David Chiu all lauded
the collaborative nature of the prostitution initiative.
It's not the first time
the police have cracked down on
prostitution in the Russian Hill and/or Polk Street neighborhoods. Two years
ago, a gunfight between two alleged pimps at the corner of Pine and
Larkin Streets sparked community outrage; 24 rounds were fired, and
bullets whizzed through apartment windows and into nearby cars, Northern
Station's Captain Ann Mannix noted at the conference. The police stepped
up enforcement for a while -- but, as Gascon noted, high levels of arrests
in a single area aren't sustainable.
certainly do not have enough vice cops to be working this area every
night for a long period of time," Gascon said. "We have a very large
world of crime and a very small universe of police resources."
Photo | Umberto Marin via Jaunted.com