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Soliciting prostitution is a crime, it harms victims and puts the would-be buyer at risk of fraud, theft or assault, the note warns. They went to people who responded to that undercover investigators placed in underground websites that cater to prostitution. If the responder actually set up a meeting with the supposed prostitute, it would have resulted in an arrest, but many responders go no further than establishing a line of communication with the person they believe is a prostitute, and those were the ones targeted with the notice, DeLain said.


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The agency had made more arrests than almost every other Wisconsin police department, but often those swept up in the crackdown were women. Relatively few men, typically the prostitutes' clients, had faced pressure in recent years. Similar gender gaps in prostitution arrests were common across Wisconsin a decade ago.

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But by Januarywhen Smith became the city's new police chieflaw enforcement strategies had changed elsewhere while Oshkosh stood nearly alone. Women ed for 78 percent of the city's prostitution arrests from to A high ratio of prostitution arrests involving women can al outdated crime-fighting strategies.

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Criminologists urge the justice system to put pressure on all participants in prostitution, including male clients known as "johns" and organizers known as "pimps," to deter the behavior. Many Wisconsin police agencies shifted course in the past decade to ensnare more men.

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Two of the state's most active enforcers in recent years, the Milwaukee and Grand Chute police departments, arrested more men than women. But Oshkosh, where police made the third most arrests, continued to predominantly focus on the women until Smith's arrival in Last year, Oshkosh police made more prostitution-related arrests than any other department in the state — even more than in Milwaukee — while also booking an almost equal of women and men. Women were historically arrested at higher rates because prostitutes often faced greater public exposure and risk of arrest.

Male-dominated police forces also limited undercover options. Stings targeting prostitutes were so standard that police in Oshkosh and elsewhere still refer to client-focused busts as "reversals. the I-Team: tips gannettwisconsin. Crime experts argue that focusing on prostitutes is only a short-term fix because the sex trade has become so mobile. Pimps and prostitutes move around, weighing opportunities for quick cash versus the risk of arrest.

As long as the demand from clients remains, the theory goes, prostitution keeps coming back. In Anaheim, California, police cited the cycle in a FBI bulletin while urging officers around the country to modify their strategies. After the police department conducted a sting targeting prostitutes, it found new prostitutes would arrive in the area.

The cycle repeated itself.

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The demographics of arrests in Wisconsin have shifted along with changing views of prostitutes. Police have increasingly considered prostitutes to be possible victims of coercion and abuse who are in need of social services instead of a jail cell. Wisconsin's attorney general has called fighting human trafficking one of his top priorities. Marianne Radley, an advocacy program director for Reach Counseling Services in Winnebago County, said approaching prostitutes as possible victims has gradually become more accepted by law enforcement in Oshkosh and across Wisconsin.

Interstate 41, from Milwaukee to Green Bay, is considered Wisconsin's most active prostitution hub.

Changing focus

Law enforcement authorities say the freeway makes it easier for pimps and prostitutes to meet clients without drawing too much attention. A decade ago, Milwaukee police led the state in prostitution arrests, logging hundreds annually. But since then, Milwaukee officers have logged few arrests while agencies across the Fox Valley have reported increasing s. A Milwaukee police spokesman said the department now works with a nonprofit to address the issue.

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Tim Gauerke said. Additionally, enforcement is not effective in addressing the root causes of prostitution. Why Oshkosh officers arrested so many women and so few men under Smith's predecessor, Scott Greuel, is unknown. Greuel, reached bydeclined to comment for this story.

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Smith said he couldn't comment on arrests before he arrived. He called last year's s an improvement, though. Smith said Oshkosh officers more often question women to determine whether they might be victims and try to connect them with services — through a court order if necessary.

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Smith said the department conducts stings targeting both prostitutes and clients. It's important to our community to do everything we can. He can be reached at kkyle gannett.

Oshkosh makes the most prostitution arrests in wisconsin, and now targets men equally

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From the outside, Josh Parise looked like the all-American guy.