SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A street in San Francisco’s Mission District has seen an uptick in traffic with people trying to make contact with sex workers.
San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen has been receiving numerous complaints from residents on Capp Street about an increase in sex work and traffic. Ronen and her staff, along with a San Francisco assistant police chief, went out to Capp Street to see it for themselves, and now officials have a plan to prevent this from continuing.
“It was shocking. It was something we have never seen before. That intensity, that much, that many sex workers, pimps standing there,” said Santiago Lerma, Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s legislative aide.
He shared photos taken by residents who reside near Capp Street that show several sex workers standing outside in the area. A line of cars can be seen with potential clients also known as “Johns.”
Supervisor Ronen and others got the idea to put up barricades on the south end of each block to create a dead-end for Johns. It will be accessible from the north for neighbors.
Lerma said the assistant police chief is also putting a motorcycle unit in that area on Fridays and Saturdays to issue citations. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said since being in office, she has visited Capp Street at night to better understand how her office can address prostitution and human trafficking concerns.
In a statement, Jenkins said in part:
“Currently, citations for solicitation are referred to our neighborhood courts for adjudication. Johns referred to neighborhood court are expected to abide by the agreements they make with community members including going to John School and pledging to not repeat their behavior. 14 Johns have been referred to neighborhood court.”
What is John School? KRON4 interviewed Dr. Michael Shively with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to learn more about it.
“One of the key messages is trying to do empathy building. Get them to understand that what they are doing is harmful,” he said of John School.
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The center did a three-year study commissioned by the Department of Justice to observe a program in San Francisco and found it to be successful in stopping Johns from reoffending.
“In the ten years leading up to the program starting, the re-offense rate for men in the city was 8.8 percent and it fell by nearly half the exact year the program started and it never rebounded,” said Dr. Shively.
He said there are over 100 programs modeled after San Francisco’s John School program.
Supervisor Ronen’s staff said in the next two to three days, the barricades will be placed. Motorcycle police will start patrolling this Friday, one of the busiest nights. In two weeks, the city will reevaluate to see if this proposed solution is working.
SFPD sent the following statement to KRON4:
The Department is aware of the issues of sex workers and the potential of human trafficking on Capp Street. The department is utilizing numerous strategies to stop and disrupt the criminal activity. The SFPD Traffic Company, Special Victims Unit and Mission Station officers will conduct enforcement and provide services and education to identified victims of human trafficking. The department will assess the use of traffic control devices as a possible method to address ongoing traffic issues experienced in the area. Mission Station has been listening to the concerns of the neighborhood and has partnered with residents to solve the on going problem.