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Proposal extending 'No-Cruising' hours expected Monday

Councilman Kwanza Hall expected to make push for increased no-cruising zone hours in an attempt to fight persistent prostitution issue in Midtown.

The Atlanta City Council returns from recess Monday afternoon with District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall set to propose extending the conclusion of Midtown's no-cruising zone ordinance an additional three hours from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Hall said he is doing so to extend the reach local law enforcement officials have in their efforts to combat the persistent prostitution issue around residences and businesses in Midtown.

Midtown has been plagued with pockets of prostitution for decades. There are times when the Atlanta Police Vice Unit teams with APD Zone 5 officers to produce successful undercover prostitution stings, such as the one late last month that resulted in 35 arrests.

But the lack of resources makes such stings too infrequent, and an extended struggling economy has led to an “increase in activity” for Midtown prostitution according to Hall.

“We are trying to figure out a strategy to address the concerns that the citizens have had for quite a long time in Midtown,” Hall told Patch. "That’s the late-night activity that is primary related to prostitution, a little bit drugs, but really prostitution.”

The current no-cruising zone ordinance – which make it illegal to pass a control point more than twice within a two-hour period – extends from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. But as many Midtowners know, those early morning hours just before sunrise are very active for prostitution in the area.

Out-of-area “johns,” some working construction or day laborer jobs in the city, will come circling the neighborhoods looking for sex. By arresting the johns, the customer base for the prostitutes will be impacted and with the proper amount of sustained effort this could help push the prostitutes out of the area.

The City of Atlanta is also working on establishing anti-prostitution areas that has been utilized with success in other cities. A “Stay Out of Area of Prostitution” (SOAP) order would essentially ban convicted prostitutes from returning to specific areas in neighborhoods for any reason whatsoever. But critics have voiced the possible violation of civil liberties with such and have also raised concerns that a SOAP zone could lead to profiling.

But extending the no-cruise hours is “in our reach” according to the councilman. “I do think extending the no-cruise hours could be very, very beneficial,’’ Hall said. “All of the night they would not be allowed to cruise. We’re trying to keep our city safe day and night - 24 hours.”

If ultimately approved, the extended no-cruising hours will be what some Midtown residents have been calling on for sometime, as well as, provide another tool for law enforcement personnel to utilize in fighting prostitution in the area.

“We think this will help the police officers to keep a better containment of this persistent issue,’’ Hal said. “We will continue to work diligently this the neighborhood. The Midtown Ponce Security Alliance and the Midtown Neighbors’ Association have been adamant about seeing some kind of relief to this situation. Hopefully we can see some light of day on this issue someday soon.”

The definition of the current no-cruising ordinance SEC. 150-296 in Midtown:

(1) Cruise or cruising means to operate a motor vehicle, or to permit the operation of a motor vehicle under one's care, custody, or control, so as to pass the same traffic points within a no cruising zone more than twice within any two-hour period.

(2) No cruising zone means the area bounded by and includes the following streets or portions of streets and any other area as designated by city council:

· Cypress Street 5th Street to Peachtree Place // Cypress Street Peachtree Street to West Peachtree Street // Seventh Street West Peachtree Street to Peachtree Street

· Piedmont Park - 10th Street Monroe and Piedmont Avenue // Piedmont Avenue 10th to Monroe

· Midtown - 4th Street // 5th Street // 6th Street // Charles Allen Drive // Vedado Way // Lakeview Avenue // St. Charles Avenue // St. Charles Way // Ponce De Leon Court // Greenwood Avenue // Monroe Circle // Ponce De Leon Avenue // Durant Place // Argonne Avenue // Myrtle Street

(3) Traffic control point means any point established by the chief of police within a no cruising zone for the purpose of monitoring cruising.

a. A person commits an offense if, between 7:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. on any day of the week, he or she cruises in an area marked in accordance with this section as a no cruising zone. A citation will be issued under this section any time after the two passages of the vehicle by the traffic control point.

b. The department of public works shall mark a no cruising zone by conspicuously posting appropriate signs at each entrance to the zone.

aposter April 17, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Let's be realistic, I'm sure if you can show some ID that you live in the area the police will be lenient and logical with the issuance of tickets. Ridding areas of nuisance crimes is a big step towards reducing other (worse) crimes as well. Let's give a police a chance to protect and serve instead of look for civil rights violations in every possible situation.
Daniel F April 17, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Or, how about we find a way to protect and serve without the need for civil rights violations in the first place? Novel idea, I know. I live and work and 10th and Piedmont and make constant trips down piedmont and up juniper, to get anywhere. Does it really keep the neighborhood safer to pull me over all the time (or send me tickets from a camera)? This is a passive response to the prostitution problem. If the city were serious about it, they'd make some arrests. Clearly they have the ability to sit and watch and count cars as they go by (and a great memory too, twice in two hours of traffic?)...but its too difficult to watch and bust the johns at a purchase? Its not like thats happening in hiding, its easier to see occur then watching even my frequent car drive around.
Chris Murphy April 17, 2012 at 08:14 PM
The cops can't "watch and bust the johns at a purchase;" it wouldn't get past a judge. Instead, they either have to catch them in the sexual act, or run a 'sting,' where they either pose as johns or prostitutes. The latter requires a lot of personnel. especially of personnel that isn't known on the street- they often use academy cadets. Bigger problem is how the perps are treated in court, where even a slap on the wrist is rare.
Chris H April 17, 2012 at 08:44 PM
How about carrying a bat and smashing some kneecaps of some of the prostitutes and dope boys. I get so tried of walking down Cypress from the Midtown MARTA station and hearing them saying, "Yo, what u need?". Or some she male asking for a good time. They get quite hostel when you say "No".
Jason April 20, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Midtown Police "lenient and logical"? lol!

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