Prostitution plagues many of our cities with dangers that are as frightening as they are sad. In York, the issue has become so intense that its dangers could now extend beyond those involved.
On a Thursday evening in downtown York, the streets are usually just heating up.
“They make that eye contact, wiggle, make gestures,” said an officer whose identity can not be revealed because of his undercover work.
The officer usually poses as what many of us know as the “John.”
“The conversations get going, and shortly thereafter they are arrested,” he said.
A few years back, the hot spot for prostitution in the city was behind the post office. Now, he said, the hustling is heavy around the area of Princess and Duke Streets.
An even bigger issue is that while the business of selling sex has grown locally, it has also become increasingly aggressive.
One resident told abc27 News that he refuses to stop at certain red lights after hours, noting the number of women who have tried to pull at his door handles. It's a fear that the undercover officer said is justified.
“I've had them come and even try to open my door,” he said. “When you are on-duty that makes it easy to arrest them, especially when they open your unlocked door and hop right in.”
The prostitutes are mostly women, some seasoned professionals. Others, he said, are closer to children. Almost all are battling addiction.
“I've arrested hundreds of prostitutes over the six or seven years I've been on the job and there are only two reasons they do it, it's either heroin or a crack cocaine addiction,” he said.
“Prostitutes are transient people,” he said. “You'll see one for a year or two or three, then they will either get their life together, move to another town, or die.”
The officer also said the supply would not be there without an equal demand.
Police said people who feel like they're in danger should keep their car doors locked.