Ever wonder what happens during a prostitution sting? Prince George's County Police in Maryland will soon offer the public an inside glimpse by live-tweeting a sting.
PGPD will be tweeting from @PGPDNews using the hashtag #PGPDVice. Police have not released exactly what when or where they will perform the prostitution sting.
Department spokeswoman Julie Parker said PGPD is taking to Twitter for safety and transparency.
"So much of what a law enforcement agency does is behind the scenes, and the community is really intrigued by that work," she said. "We're simply putting it out in a very public forum."
Parker said live-tweeting will target "Johns" — the people who solicit prostitutes — and will potentially tweet their names, charges and even photos. All that is public information when someone is arrested in connection with a crime, she said.
Cyndee Clay of HIPS, a D.C. area group that assists people in the sex work industry, said live-tweeting is not the way to fight prostitution.
"This seems to be a reality TV show masking as law enforcement," she said. "There's a sensationalism there that is exciting for people, but quite frankly, these are real societal issues, and again, these are real people's lives we're dealing with."
Sex workers who are being abused or are stuck in a sex-trafficking operation against their will may be less likely to turn to police for help out of fear of being arrested for prostitution, Clay said.
Similarly, clients of sex workers who may see or suspect that a prostitute is being abused will also be less likely to inform police, fearing they may be arrested for soliciting prostitution to begin with, she said.
"This still creates a culture of mistrust, and quite frankly, it wastes resources that would be better yet used investigating instances of violence or investigating instances of slavery or trafficking," Clay said.
She added that the problem of prostitution will not stop through arrests, but through programs that help women break free of prostitution, counseling and job training.
In a blog post Thursday, PGPD said, "The intent all along has been to put on notice and/or arrest the very people who exploit women and even young girls in our community ... Our Vice Unit regularly helps trafficked women connect with groups and advocates who help them escape the dangerous sex trade."