BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Fourteen men were arrested last weekend in what the Daytona Beach Police Department called “a reverse prostitution” operation. It was termed “reverse” because instead of going after the prostitutes, the officers targeted the customers they serve, popularly known as “johns.”
The sting follows an operation held three days prior where eight women were arrested trying to sell sex to undercover officers.
DBPD’s Crime Suppression Team conducted the operation near the 800 block of Ridgewood Ave. last weekend, an area known for street prostitution, arrest records show.
Men ranging in age from 19-68 were locked up in the back of squad cars after offering money, drugs or both for a quick sexual experience with an undercover officer posing as a prostitute, who began most conversations with, “You want to party?”
Money, drugs, cars
According to police records, 65-year-old T. Parker contacted the undercover officer by saying “Hey girl!” The officer responded, “What’s up? Are you looking to party?” Parker replied stating, “I was until I went to the doctor’s office. There went my social security money; $147 to see a doctor.”
The conversation continued with the officer saying she needed money for minutes on her phone and Parker replied saying he’d take $5 out of his grocery money if she would let him see her breasts and perform a sexual act. The officer replied, “OK, but not out here. There’s too many people around here.” Parker responded OK and the pair began traveling down Fremont Avenue – where he was taken into custody.
Another John, 31-year-old J. Maddox, attempted to pay for sex when he rolled down the window of his car on Fremont Avenue and yelled to the undercover officer “Hey.” The officer replied, “What’s up?” He then stopped in the middle of the roadway, rolled his window down again and said, “Get in the back.” The officer replied, “I don’t know you like that, I have a room.”
The conversation continued with the officer saying she would be right back after she grabbed her things. Maddox was then apprehended. During the inventory of the vehicle, officers located a clear bag with less than a gram of suspected crack cocaine.
In both cases, the vehicles were towed and the men were issued a citation for mandatory revocation of their driver’s licenses upon conviction.
From the streets to the ‘Net
In addition to having agents pose undercover, Flynt says the department has a number of ways of finding prostitution suspects who use websites like Craigslist and Backpage.com.
A quick search of the Daytona Beach Craigslist personal ads under the casual encounters page finds women and men soliciting time for money. One poster asks for sexual favors in exchange of “a donation of 20 roses for your time.” “Twenty roses” refers to $20.
There is also some self-policing done by Craigslist responders. One post titled, “Beware. Scam…” says, “This chick will bring you to her place at (address redacted) in Edgewater to get you robbed by her friends. Go at your own risk. This is what she looks like,” with a picture of the alleged person.
Another post titled, “Are you mad or na?” is a reply to a Craigslist poster asking why she continues to get flagged. The post responds to her question by saying,“They are flagging you because you are a prostitute.”
Computer to the smart phone
Phone-based applications and websites such as Mixxer, Skout, AshleyMadison.com, AdultFriendFinder, and more are all hotbeds for prostitution.
Each site has a policy against the practice, but it continues to show up.
Rundown of options
Skout is a location-based application that can be used on a smartphone or computer that allows its users to chat, exchange photos or notes, and send virtual gifts.
The site touts that “it’s always 100% up to you if you want to make contact with someone – or if you want to respond to someone who is trying to make contact with you. YOU decide if, when and how you want to connect.”
AshleyMadison.com is a website where the slogan is “Life is short; have an affair.”
AdultFriendFinder.com is a social network for those looking for sex partners as well.
Not a waste
Officers argue people who think police should be spending their time arresting other types of criminals don’t understand how useful a prostitution arrest can be for those other more serious crimes.
Flynt says that the DBPD is not only seeking those who sell sexual service, but those who purchase those services as well.