Neighbors plead with city to stop sex workers in Seattle

by: David Ham Updated:

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SEATTLE - People living near Aurora Boulevard in Seattle said police aren't doing enough to stop sex workers who walk the streets.

"We've noticed this activity; we've noticed the police officers driving right by them, these police officers are saying, not citing them," said Richard Dyksterhuis of the Greenwood Aurora Involved Neighbors group.

He said neighbors have sent emails to officers pleading to have sex workers arrested.

Seattle Police said officers aren't targeting sex workers because they are trying to focus on arresting pimps and johns first.

Noel Gomez used to be a sex worker for 15 years and also worked the street on Aurora.

"Everybody wants out, it's just not easy to get out without somebody to help you," said Gomez.

She runs the Organization for Prostitution Survivors and tries to help sex workers get off the streets.

"These women are victims, they are victims. What we need to help them with are services. They need services to get them out of the life," said Gomez.

She agrees with Seattle Police's plan to go after pimps and johns first.

City Attorney Pete Holmes also thinks the city should go after pimps and johns more aggressively.

"We would try to flip the ratio. The traditional ratio is typically two-thirds female prostituted people to one-third sex buyers. We wanted to use existing resources and flip that," said Holmes.

So far this year 30 people have been charged for being johns and two people have been charged with prostitution.

"It is a little bit early to see how the results are panning out, but we do know we were kind of fighting a losing battle before," said Holmes.

Holmes was also clear that just because police aren't targeting sex workers specifically, officers will make an arrest if they see a crime.

Dyksterhuis complained that many neighbors in his group talked to officers who said they wouldn't arrest prostitutes because they wouldn't be charged by the city attorney's office.

Holmes said that isn't true.

"I don't care what the reason is frankly. I have to do my job and the officers have to do theirs," said Holmes.

Seattle Police recommend that neighbors call in anything they might see that is suspicious.

 

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