Yakima police have launched what they say will be a series of stings to crack down on prostitution along North First Street. And to help the effort, they decided Monday to publicize the names and release the photographs of suspects arrested last month for patronizing prostitutes.
Publicizing the prostitution arrests is a new tactic that Chief Dominic Rizzi believes has worked in other communities, Capt. Rod Light of the Yakima Police Department said.
“It’s a good way to send a message: You want to come to our town and participate in this type of behavior, there is going to be a price to pay, and it’s public exposure of who you are,” he said.
The city of Yakima has taken general aim at North First Street, sending code enforcement officers to motels and crafting a plan to improve sidewalks, lights and storefronts. Sign clutter is another problem, say city officials, who want to beautify the city’s northern entrance.
All eight suspects netted in the prostitution sting have been charged in municipal court with patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor, Light said. The sting was conducted with female officers working undercover.
Light said the department hopes to make news of such arrests a “regular occurrence,” perhaps every two weeks. Future releases may include accused prostitutes and pimps, he added.
Yakima Herald-Republic Editor Bob Crider said the newspaper does not plan to run the names and photographs of misdemeanor suspects. He said his decision is based on the need for fairness, noting the newspaper does not routinely publicize misdemeanors and that many felony arrests do not get coverage due to the volume of crime in the region.
The Herald-Republic would cover prostitution arrests of public officials or other public figures, he added.