ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The names and faces of nine men, charged with patronizing prostitutes, are being broadcast by St. Louis police on social media. It’s part of a new tactic to curb prostitution in south St. Louis.
The idea behind this strategy, which FOX 2 first reported in mid-April, before it began, is that there wouldn’t be a prostitution problem, if there weren’t customers to keep them in business. That’s why police are targeting the johns, and residents like Linda Stegall hope it will work.
In the five years that Stegall has lived on South Broadway, right near South St. Louis Square Park, she’s seen more prostitutes than she cares to count. “Every day you could sit in front of my house and see every bit of 50 to 100 working women.”
And Stegall says they often bring trouble: “Looking in my front door, hollering obscenities, messing with our vehicles, hanging out, you can see hookers getting picked up by johns, etc. etc.”
In this undercover operation, police are targeting johns on South Broadway between Bates and Loughborough. This narrow focus has led to nine arrests in just two days. Three of those were in the same spot, on the 7600 block of South Broadway. Other suspected johns were arrested on Bellerive, Montana, and Steins.
Residents say South St. Louis Square Park is one of the biggest problem areas. FOX 2 spoke with a mother of four who enjoys bringing her children there, but knows to watch them closely. “It’s kind of disgusting, to be honest,” she says, “If that’s what they choose, that’s what they choose, but I’d prefer they do it elsewhere and not in a public park where children are.”
Hopefully, that park will soon be safer, since police say these nine arrests are just the beginning. “I think it’s great, they need to get it out of here,” says Stegall.
Publicizing these mug shots is just the beginning. The suspected johns will receive a reminder card, which tells them when and where they were caught, and cautions them about STD’s. The card also gives them a court date. Convicted patrons then face a $500 fine, and/or prison time.