“Eager to drive up prostitution arrests in the name of doing something about “human trafficking,” the New York City Police Department (NYPD) doesn’t much care whether any actual violent crime—or even actual prostitution—is taking place. A new investigation by ProPublica examines how the city’s zeal to look tough on trafficking has created yet another avenue for biased law enforcement and means for police to harass nonwhite residents and communities.
In the past four years, only seven percent of New Yorkers arrested for allegedly soliciting prostitution and only 11 percent of those charged with prostitution were white, according to ProPublica.
“Teams of NYPD officers have descended on minority neighborhoods, leaning into car windows and knocking on apartment doors, trying to get men and women to say the magic words: agreeing to exchange sex for money,””
“”Some of their targets were selling sex to survive; others were minding their own business. Almost everyone arrested for these crimes in the last four years is nonwhite, a ProPublica data analysis shows: 89% of the 1,800 charged with prostitution; 93% of the 3,000 accused of trying to buy sex.
Of the dozens of cops, lawyers and other experts ProPublica interviewed for this story, not a single one believes arrest figures for patronizing a prostitute accurately reflect the racial makeup of those who buy sex in New York City.””
“defendants were often coerced into pleading guilty to avoid dragging out court dates, legal fees, etc. In cases where defendants did push back, the city often settled.
“Since 2014, the city has paid more than a million in taxpayer dollars to at least 20 people who claimed they were falsely arrested in prostitution or ‘john’ stings,””
“”Last year, it paid $150,000 to five young Latino men who said they were laughing off a proposition when they were arrested and $20,000 to a West African taxi driver who said in a sworn deposition that he was walking home when a woman asked if he’d walk down the block with her. He told ProPublica he thought she was afraid of walking alone, so he agreed. He was then arrested.
The undercover officer in his case netted 10 arrests in three and a half hours the night she encountered him, earning her four hours of overtime pay.
Eighteen current and former officers who policed the sale of sex in New York City said overtime has motivated them for years. The hours add up over the drive to the precinct, the questioning, the paperwork. “You arrest 10 girls, now the whole team’s making eight hours of overtime,”””