NEW PORT RICHEY — Police may soon have another tool to crack down on prostitution that residents and business owners say continues to run rampant on U.S. 19.
In response to growing complaints over crime, the City Council recently held a work session to discuss how to combat the problem. Police Chief Kim Bogart suggested passing an ordinance that has been successful in the Miami-Dade area.
Prostitution has consistently come up as a hot-button issue with homeowners and businesses along U.S. 19 who described seeing prostitutes soliciting customers in broad daylight in their parking lots.
City Council member Jeff Starkey, who lives just off U.S. 19, welcomed the ordinance. He said combatting the prostitution and drug dealing he witnesses near his home is why he ran for office in April.
"It's unbelievable how brazen these ... women are on U.S. 19," he said.
Bogart said he plans to propose an ordinance that would allow officers to make arrests should a known prostitute merely make movements to wave over vehicles. The ordinance in Miami-Dade also allows law enforcement to stop potential Johns who circle an area known for prostitution multiple times.
It's unclear when Bogart will bring an ordinance to the council but he said in the meantime his officers have run prostitution stings which have already led to numerous arrests in recent months. But even though arrests are being made, the prostitutes are often quickly back on the street, Bogart said.
"It's a revolving door," he said.