Fresno Police set sights on prostitution

FRESNO, Calif.

People who work along Blackstone Ave in Central Fresno told Action News they see prostitutes out there all the time.

And while the city wants to put a stop to it, there's not much room in the budget to help. So, city leaders are trying to get creative.

Recently, prostitutes have become increasingly visible. "It's something that goes on right out here in the open," said Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier.

Olivier told Action News he's constantly hearing from his constituents about the problem. "They're complaining to my office, so I want to do something about it," he said.

Wednesday, Olivier met with the city attorney, every single Fresno Police captain and Chief Jerry Dyer.

Action News was not allowed inside the meeting. But, Chief Dyer told Action News he's looking into an inexpensive deterrent, public embarrassment.

"Many of the Johns that we come in contact with are businessmen, family members, people that have a lot to lose if their identity is revealed publicly," Chief Dyer said.

The plan may include posting the Johns' names and faces on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The legal details of that plan still need to be worked out, however.

"It really is happening in our backyards, it's happening all over," said Jody Ketcheside, who is from the group Central Valley Against Human Trafficking.

Ketcheside said the prostitutes are likely victims of sex trafficking, being forced to sell their bodies. "If there is a pimp involved, more often than not, there are no choices. They're controlled."

City leaders also said the down economy also accounts for the rise in prostitution. But whatever the reason behind it many want it stopped.

Chief Dyer said he will have use volunteer or reserve officers to create a police presence in neighborhoods where prostitution is a problem. Those officers still have the power to make arrests.

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