Undercover SFPD officers have recently been posing as sex workers and they say they've busted 30 "johns" in a pointless exercise on Capp Street, in an ongoing effort to crack down on solicitation on that Mission District alley.
One sex worker already told a local TV station what would likely happen if SF police continued cracking down on the sex trade on Capp Street, which dates back decades: The sex workers will just shift over to another nearby street.
But crack down they shall, and now we get an update from the SFPD about how many "johns" they've busted in recent months using decoy, undercover officers dressed as sex workers.
"Since operations began, officers have cited or arrested over 30 suspects for soliciting prostitution, issued nearly 150 traffic citations, and provided multiple resources for sex workers," the department writes in a release. "The community should expect to see operations like these for the foreseeable future."
The busted johns have just received tickets for soliciting prostitution, and in some cases they've also gotten citations for failure to stop at a stop sign or cruising with their headlights off, the police say.
This deterrence and enforcement operation has been aimed solely at the men arriving to pay for sex, and not the sex workers themselves. Understanding that "sex workers are often the victims of human trafficking," the SFPD says, "The sex workers encountered by SFPD during these operations were not cited for sex-related offenses but instead were provided resources that will help them transition out of the sex work industry."
Rumblings about Capp Street and an apparent uptick in soliciting there began in early February, with the city announcing that a four-block stretch of the street would be partially barricaded to discourage the slow-moving traffic of johns arriving to cruise the street.
The police now tell us that their crackdown on Capp dates back to last fall, and it's not clear how many nights undercover officers spent on the street posing as prostitutes.
A KTVU report from two weeks revealed the sting operation, so it's clear the department wants the message out now that dudes seeking sex workers shouldn't be coming to Capp Street anymore.
But as with most crackdowns like this, police are likely to lose interest in this project soon, and it will be back to business as usual — and/or the popular strip for plying sex work will just move over to Shotwell two blocks away, or somewhere else.
What seems clear is that word of mouth has let it be known for at least 30 years — if not longer — that Capp Street is where you go for a certain echelon of sex workers. As the Chronicle's Kevin Fagan reported last month, many of these women are addicted to drugs, and the going rate for their services has remained fairly low, compared to other sex-work venues.
As one woman named Nyomie told Fagan, "Putting up barriers might slow it up for a moment — and might actually be good for us, because it will slow down the customers when they drive up. But they’ll never stop the trade here. It’s always been here, and it always will be."
Image: @SFFFLocal798 via Twitter