(WJLA) - Prince George's County police posted a follow-up message on the department's blog Thursday, offering more details about their previously-announced plans to document a prostitution sting on Twitter next week, live as it happens.
The department said its announcement, which many news outlets including ABC7 Washington reported on, "sparked intense discussion on social media."
Indeed, many ABC7 viewers and readers posted emotional comments on our Facebook page, upset at the idea that the police may be targeting the prostitutes, whom they said they feel need help getting out of the lifestyle more than public shame.
"I feel most prostitutes are victims, either in their past that lead them into this life, or being forced currently," one viewer said on ABC7's Facebook page. "[It's] just all sad to me."
"Because sex workers aren't shamed and dehumanized enough? Because this strategy will make it easier for them to pay the bills and take care of themselves? Hey, let's add pictures so we can ruin their lives and their kids/families' lives too!" posted another viewer. "Cool idea, guys. Way to problem-solve."
In response to many such comments made by readers and viewers to several news outlets in the area, the department released more details Thursday, stressing the fact that they plan to target the customers, or "johns," and not the prostitutes, in the operation.
"Our Vice Unit will target those who choose to solicit a prostitute, not the prostitutes themselves," the department's statement said. "The intent all along has been to put on notice and/or arrest the very people who exploit women and even young girls in our community."
The department added that combating sexual trafficking and child exploitation is a priority for their law enforcement officers.
"Some young girls and women involved in prostitution are victims of human trafficking. Our Vice Unit regularly helps trafficked women connect with groups and advocates who help them escape the dangerous sex trade," the statement continued.
"We're hoping the advance notice we've provided acts as a deterrent to would-be johns who choose to engage in this illegal behavior," they said.
"This is another example of our department's commitment to transparency. We'll give our community real-time access to the PGPD's Vice Unit, which is dedicated to shutting down this type of illicit business and seeking help for its victims."
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