Stephen Ellison

San Jose Police Cracking Down on Prostitution With Sting Operation

A South Bay community says a growing prostitution problem has made them prisoners in their own homes. It’s a problem that’s been growing for a decade, but San Jose police say they’re starting to turn things around.

Officers were out in the city's Washington neighborhood Tuesday, arresting men who are paying for sex.

Community leader Carlos Barba says he took video so others can see what he and his neighbors deal with every day. They’re images Barba has seen for years on his street.

"Typical Friday night in the Washington-Guadalupe neighborhood," Barba said as he reviewed the video. "It's scary to think that every day there’s kids walking to school and seeing needles, condoms, underwear on the street."

For the past few weeks, San Jose police officers have mobilized. Several female officers are posing as prostitutes to catch the johns. One officer was propositioned just moments after reporting to her post on Monterey Road. The man was arrested and taken to jail on a misdemeanor solicitation charge.

"That’s not the way we expect any of our residents to live," police Chief Eddie Garcia said. "So to the extent this police department can do something proactive to assist them, we’re going to do that. That’s not the way a community should live."

Since the beginning of October, police have arrested 86 women for prostitution, 31 johns and three juveniles, all along Monterey Road.

"Oftentimes, we get a criminal element that think they can set up shop," Garcia said. "We want to send a strong message that you can't set up shop here without getting our attention."

Community leaders applaud the enforcement and hope innocent moms walking on the sidewalk will stop being a target for johns.

"Moms are taking their kids to school, and johns will drive by and ask them if they can pick them up. In front of the kids," Barba said.

While some days, police focus on johns, other days, the team will focus on the pimps and prostitutes. The goal now is to reach a permanent solution with the city.

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