Last fall, New Haven Police Department Chief James Lewis promised that the department would conduct weekly prostitution stings until the city no longer had a prostitution problem.
But in the past four months, the NHPD has not conducted a single prostitution sting. Lewis said Tuesday, however, that the stings are not necessarily a thing of the past.
“The strategy of prostitution stings will continue as long as this is a problem and complaint of those living in the neighborhoods,” he said in an e-mail message.
The last sting the NHPD conducted occurred Dec. 5. In that sting, three prostitutes were arrested. Lewis said there have been no stings recently because of the weather: Prostitution is less of a problem during the winter, he said. Lewis also said the lack of stings over the past four months was also due to reorganization of the NHPD’s narcotics/vice unit, which since its reinstatement Jan 31. now handles the prostitution stings.
Some advocates of Targeted Activity Policing, Lewis’ new strategy of cracking down on less-severe crimes, have criticized the raids. Barbara Fair, a community activist for the local grassroots organization People Against Injustice, said the stings are just another example of the NHPD moving away from community policing.
After the NHPD announced its new strategy, Fair said: “Community policing is important because if police build a good reputation with the community, the community will help the police.”
Fair said the department should be embarrassed for failing to set a good example; an NHPD officer was caught with a prostitute during a sting in September.
Lewis would not say when the stings would resume. The undercover stings first began Aug. 14 and have resulted in the arrests of more than 50 prostitutes and “johns.”