The Metropolitan Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit has arrested 41 men since July 14 for soliciting prostitution in Northwest D.C.
Starting in January, the MPD unit has conducted a number of sting operations at hotels around Thomas Circle not far from the city’s old Red Light District on 14th Street NW. Police lured johns online with fake advertisements, giving the men men hotel room numbers and arresting the ones who showed up.
Police were spurred by reports of street prostitution from local businesses and churches around Thomas Circle and along the bustling 14th Street corridor downtown. Prosecutors in the District have increasingly focused on prostitution cases of late in an effort to battle human trafficking.
The arrests come after Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans proposed new legislation that would crack down on johns by allowing police to tow and boot their cars. The “honey, I lost the car” bill, as Evans dubs it, is meant to embarrass johns and decrease prostitution in the city. He said recently there has been an “enormous increase in street prostitution” in the city.
His proposal comes from a long line of ideas the District has experimented with to crack down on prostitution since the early 1990s. Other ideas tested out by the city government to put a damper on prostitution include banning right turns on certain streets and starting a “John School” to shame and frighten men caught soliciting prostitutes.