- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Men who prowl the streets of St. Louis for prostitutes can expect a brightly colored postcard in the mail - from police.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1p6sMxX ) reports that in an effort to curb prostitution, police are targeting, and perhaps humiliating, the “johns” who use the services. The postcards mailed to the homes of those charged with trying to pick up prostitutes will offer a reminder about spreading sexually transmitted diseases, along with listing the court date.

“Thanks for your visit to …” the bright postcards say, leaving a spot for the location and date of a crime. “The city of St. Louis, its residents and your neighbors would like to remind you that lewd, lascivious and/or suggestive behavior (including but not limited to prostitution, solicitation and prostitution loitering) are a violation of city ordinance and state law.”

Solicitation is an ordinance violation carrying a penalty often no harsher than a fine. Police hope the postcards are an attention-grabber and deterrent. They are rolling out the program this week in two neighborhoods where residents have complained of prostitution.

“If there weren’t customers, prostitutes would be out of business,” said St. Louis Police Capt. Dan Howard. “And what we’re looking to do is put them out of business.”

Police say they also plan to routinely provide local news media with mug shots of those charged with prostitution crimes, hoping to dissuade repeat offenders.

Shaming people to curb prostitution has been used before in St. Louis and elsewhere. The difference with the latest effort is that patrol officers instead of vice squads will be used to catch johns.

Police in other departments - Sarasota, Fla., Baltimore, Oakland, Calif. - have used similar letter-writing campaigns. Richmond, Va., police posted photos of johns to Facebook and Twitter. Milwaukee police showcased offenders on a city-run television program.

The St. Louis program could expand to other neighborhoods if successful, Howard said.

“Residents should be able to walk around in their neighborhoods without being confronted by predators,” Howard said.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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