Each month, more than 210 girls in Minnesota are sold for sex. Roseville Police are participating in a countywide campaign to stop prostitution.
Most of the young girls are run-aways or come from abusive homes, while others get involved with a gang or the wrong guy. The girls are given drugs and are beaten and manipulated into a life of prostitution. They were looking for an escape and went from a bad to a worse situation.
In the past several years, rather than soliciting on the streets, pimps use the Internet, online ads and social media to arrange sexual encounters at local hotels. Pimps go to hotels where hoteliers look the other way and the police don’t get involved.
Roseville Police aren’t looking the other way, and Roseville hoteliers are speaking up against this crime.
Roseville Police, working with other local law enforcement agencies and the Ramsey County Attorney’s office, have trained hotel employees on ways to identify possible sex trafficking and prostitution, including guests with no luggage or ID; rooms paid for in cash; people who are fearful or show signs of physical abuse; men waiting outside rooms; and other unusual behaviors.
If hotel employees see something suspicious they are asked to call the police. Police respond immediately and arrest any johns, pimps or prostitutes age 18 or older. Girls under the age of 18 are considered victims. Ramsey County works with them to find resources to get away from a life of prostitution.
Roseville is participating in a countywide campaign to stop prostitution. Once pimps feel pressure they move to another location. Roseville and Ramsey County want pimps to feel pressure at all hotels in the county. They also want to drive down the demand for prostitutes. Unfortunately arresting offenders does not necessarily deter future illegal activity. By prosecuting offenders and providing treatment/intervention to johns and prostitutes, we can reduce the demand for prostitution services.
Therefore, the City Attorney’s office prosecutes first time offenders through an innovative approach.
Typically, first time offenders are offered a chance to maintain a clear criminal record if they agree to plead guilty, pay applicable fines and penalties, and complete a court-ordered counseling program. The counseling program, typically through Breaking Free, challenges attitudes and assumptions that let offenders think it is okay to participate in prostitution. Offenders are held accountable for their illegal action while raising awareness about sex trafficking. Women trapped in a life of prostitution are given resources to start a new life.
If a person who was arrested completes all of the conditions, the case would be dismissed at the end of their probationary period.
Some Roseville residents have expressed concern that prostitution arrests in Roseville have been in the news lately. Residents and businesses can be assured that Roseville’s increased focus on prostitution arrests is having a positive effect on the City. Statistically, Roseville saw a 76% decrease in prostitution related arrests from 2012. Roseville also saw a 29% decrease in total police calls for service to area hotels and motels compared to the same reporting period in 2012. Police hear fewer complaints from hotel/ motel staff and visitors, see fewer escort providers advertising “services,” and see an implied reluctance to carry out “services” in Roseville due to increased law enforcement pressure. Undercover officers report a common theme from “escorts” and “johns” who hesitate about coming to Roseville because the City is known for its police stings.
Roseville Police Chief Rick Mathwig said one of the goals of the campaign is to get all communities to aggressively fight the sex trafficking industry. “Girls as young as 12 years of age are being forced into this illegal activity. If communities work together to pressure pimps and johns we can have a positive impact on these young girls’ lives,” said Mathwig.