Attacking prostitution on Tulsa's streets

Monday, May 12th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Police Department's north side street crimes unit ran its second undercover raid Monday in two weeks and arrested 30 men and two women.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright goes behind the scenes of this secret operation to bring us this exclusive report.

Two women police officers donned shorts and t-shirts and stood near 11th Street and the men started trolling. And, it didn't take long to get a bite. Police radio: "Tank top, white male, six-feet-two." The operation is centered inside two undercover vans where other officers monitor the women's hidden body mics that they wear for protection. Female officer: "Wanna play?"

The officers must wait until the men name a sex act and a price. Then, the women ask the men to park and go with them to a nearby apartment. Female officer: "Park right over there." Once inside the nearby apartment, the men got something they didn't bargain for. Officers arrested a roomful of men in just a couple of hours. They'll all go to jail for soliciting a prostitute, which is a misdemeanor. They'll post a few hundred dollars bond and be home for supper, their wives and girlfriends, none the wiser.

Tulsa Police Cpl BK Smith, "It's ranged from a 21 year old to a 69 year old preacher who was carrying a gun. It knows no age boundaries and it never stops." As a bonus, the officers picked up a couple of women who really were working 11th Street and approached the male undercover officers for sex.

This may not be the crime of the century, but it is a quality of life issue for these neighbors. Police say they get a number of calls to get this activity off the streets. Officers say prostitution and drugs often go hand in hand, which then leads to robbery and even rape, none of which people want near their homes. People who live and work in this area were thanking the officers for being out there Monday.

Unfortunately, with upcoming budget cuts at the police department, the street crimes unit could be disbanded and this type of neighborhood enforcement will be put on hold.