No happy endings

Y’all, the QueQue gave you some bad info back in late May, when we were up in arms that the SAPD’s 257 prostitution arrests to date included not one man — an indication, we suspected, that those arrests included not one john. Since the state statute criminalizing prostitution doesn’t distinguish between ’hos and joes, neither SAPD nor the Bexar County DA could confirm this, but neither the DA’s office nor Bexar County Adult Probation could recall a recent john case.

As it turns out, however, those stats were incorrect. Sometime after we issued our indictment, we saw a KENS-5 news segment on an exclusive May 12 “huge” (their word) john-busting ride-along, in which a somewhat breathless Amanda Stanzilis informs us that nine men have already been arrested in the two-day “prostitution reversal.” “And we can tell you, this sting is far from over,” she says.

Actually, it was over, according to police arrest records, and we’re not so sure about that number nine, either. Read on.

So we went back to the SAPD and asked how it was that all 257 of the arrestees could have been female, given the KENS-5 report … and received a new set of numbers, which included 25 male offenders. The reason for the discrepancy? The first set of numbers given to us were vice-unit arrests only (and should have included eight male arrests); now the SAPD was giving us citywide prostitution arrest numbers. Dear reader, we’d share the back-and-forth with you, but it’ll give you an aneurism. Suffice to say: We feel pretty confident in the following stats, thanks to the dedicated sleuthing of a certain SAPD PIO who responded to numerous cranky phone calls and emails from yours truly.

The underlying problem, though, remains. We requested copies of incident reports for all men arrested on prostitution charges between January 1 and June 28, and found that arrests of actual johns comes out to about 2 percent of the total. Of those 25 arrestees, 14 were male prostitutes, a few were actually women prostitutes who were arrested along with men (who were not charged with prostitution), and one was a First Friday street fighter who got caught up in the open-records net. Of 377 prostitution arrests made between January 1 and June 21, only six were johns. Why?

“It takes a little more work to put together a reversal,” Police Chief William McManus told the QueQue, “but there’s no particular reason for that.” McManus assured us that his officers take the demand side of prostitution just as seriously as supply, and seemed offended when we asked if, by any chance, his officers might view purchasing sexual services as minor hijinx. “I think the supply side of it is much more noticeable than the demand side, and I think that’s probably why it gets a lot of attention. But both sides are equally as important to enforce.”

McManus added that prostitution is a complex issue that requires more tools than simple enforcement. “Whether it’s the johns or it’s the prostitutes, it’s a lot bigger than simply trying to arrest the issue away,” he said. “There are a lot of social problems here that are involved in why prostitution is so prolific in all cities across the country.”

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