77 men arrested in crackdown on Pulaski Highway sex traffic

March 28, 1994|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

In a crackdown on rampant prostitution along Pulaski Highway, Baltimore County police have arrested 77 people in recent weeks -- all of them men described as would-be customers.

Authorities said the men were charged with soliciting sex acts from undercover policewomen, working as decoys to make the arrests.

The operation was conducted on five days -- March 11, and from Tuesday through Friday last week -- by the county police vice squad. It followed by two months a crackdown on the prostitutes themselves.

"Hookers down there knew we were putting pressure on them and have gone elsewhere," said Capt. Jeffrey M. Caslin, head of the White Marsh and Parkville precincts. "We felt like it was time to put female decoys down there. The only women down there now are us."

Captain Caslin said all the arrests were made by police teams operating with two policewomen who walk along the 7600 and 7700 blocks of Pulaski Highway, posing as prostitutes.

He said all of those arrested faced charges of solicitation for prostitution or lewdness, and were released on their own recognizance. Most of those arrested were laborers, but the police noted that two ministers and a Morgan State University police officer also were arrested.

Captain Caslin said the police will become more visible on Pulaski Highway beginning May 1, when the department will use federal funds for overtime pay to assign officers to enforcement against drunken driving there. He said the additional officers would deter streetwalkers and their "johns."

He said the county also hopes to use other tools to attack prostitution, including proposed legislation that would enable police to shut down hotels and motels that are used for illegal sex acts.

He said he doesn't believe police will be able to eradicate the problem, but could change Pulaski Highway's image as a magnet for prostitution.

"A lot of the women have come from out of town -- Philadelphia, Boston. We've had them come from as far away as the West Coast. Prostitutes have their own intelligence network. They know where the prostitution is in each city," Captain Caslin said.

He said the police action came in response to constant complaints from area residents. Leaders in Baltimore County's Rosedale community have complained that the administration of County Executive Roger B. Hayden has ignored their pleas for help.

Captain Caslin said police stepped up the efforts two months ago by arresting 15 to 20 women on prostitution charges.

County police spokesman E. Jay Miller said the men arrested during the recent sweep usually asked decoys for sexual acts, offering $20 to $30. He said the decoys signaled to other officers when the offers were made, and their colleagues moved in to make the arrests.

Mr. Miller said county police have coordinated their operation with the city police, who have a stretch of Pulaski Highway in their jurisdiction.

Sgt. Charles Rykiel, of the Baltimore Police Department's Northeastern District, said city police arrested 22 men on charges of solicitation on the city's side of Pulaski Highway Friday and Saturday night.

He said he wasn't aware of a specific operation, but that the number of solicitation arrests was higher than usual.

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