Hookers Know Way to San Jose: Cops

Elimination of Vice unit apparently opens flood gate for ladies of the night.

By Kurt Wagner
|  Tuesday, Jul 12, 2011  |  Updated 1:50 PM PDT
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Prostitutes are taking over downtown San Jose, and there's little police can do about it.

Prostitutes are taking over downtown San Jose, and there's little police can do about it.

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San Jose budget cuts aren’t hurting all businesses, and in fact, one group in particular seems to be cashing in on the city’s economic woes: prostitutes.

Prostitution has made a rapid comeback to San Jose street corners in the past few weeks, according to NBC Bay Area sources.

After police budgets were slashed July 1, San Jose PD’s Vice Unit was disbanded, said San Jose Police Department spokesman Jose Garcia.  This meant that part of their job responsibility – cracking down on prostitution and brothels – was reassigned to the police department’s Covert Response Unit.

The CRU was originally responsible for narcotics busts in the area and despite the newly added responsibilities, the unit’s size increased by one officer. It now totals 14. Sources say the result has been an increase in illegal prostitution.

"We're fairly confident that they will be able to address those issues, however, it may not be as fast as we traditionally were able to do that," said Garcia. 

Two police sources told NBC Bay Area that prostitutes have even been traveling from as far as Oakland and Fresno to take advantage of San Jose’s less scrutinized street corners.

South Second Street seems to be a hotspot for this type of illegal activity. Community members say that once the sun goes down, the neighborhood turns into a gathering place crawling with those involved in the prostitution business. One local store owner described Second Street as “a zoo,” particularly on Thursday nights after San Jose’s "Music in the Park" concerts. 

One site in particular, the corner of Second and William Streets, is only two blocks from the city’s Federal Courthouse and just one block from Notre Dame High School.

Felix Fanti, a resident on Second Street, says the police are nowhere to be found.

"Every night, any time after six o'clock you see women walking up and down the streets. After 12 o'clock you see pimps posted up on these corners," he said. "But that's nothing new to me, I see it all the time."

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