The Prince George’s County Police Department says it will take to Twitter as the Vice Unit conducts a prostitution sting next week:
“We’re using this progressive, and what we believe unprecedented, social media tactic to warn any potential participants that this type of criminal behavior is not welcome in Prince George’s County,” a news release says.
Police say the photos of suspects and information will be tweeted as the sting happens.
Still, advocates are outraged by what one organization calls a “horrible decision” that could endanger the lives of these sex workers.
“I think it’s terrible. It’s awful,” says Cyndee Clay, executive director of HIPS, a nonprofit organization that “promotes the health, rights, and dignity” of people affected by sexual exchange.
“Shaming doesn’t work.”
Clay says campaigns like this don’t decrease prostitution or help address the issues that lead someone to become a sex worker.
“If they are in a trafficking or abusive situation, posting their picture on the Internet isn’t doing anything to help that situation,” she says.
“You’re also potentially outing these people to their friends, family and to their neighbors. This puts them at increased risk of violence or isolation.”
In response to the police department’s decision, HIPS will live tweet a day of service at its D.C. center and a night on its outreach van, which connects sex workers with counseling, HIV and hepatitis C testing and other “safe sex materials.”