Handcuffed side-by-side to a steel railing, a woman accused of prostitution had this to say to a man accused of soliciting a sex act: "If you wouldn't proposition us, none of us would be here."
"That's right," said Southern District police Lt. Barry Baker, who overheard last night's exchange between the suspects -- the 1,350th and 1,351st his squad has arrested on prostitution charges since 1995.
Baker's squad arrested 13 women and seven men on sex solicitation charges in the Carroll and Morrell park areas of the city in an operation dubbed "No John Zone." Another man was arrested and charged with hindering for warning people that an undercover operation was being conducted.
Though police were primarily after men, using undercover female police officers posing as prostitutes, most of the arrests were of women by plainclothes male officers.
Baker said the sweeps are working to rid neighborhoods of the troublesome trade, which is accompanied by drug activity and other crimes.
Residents living along Patapsco Avenue, Washington Boulevard and Monroe Street are particularly hard-hit.
Baker estimated that the Southern District has 300 regular prostitutes making $100 to $200 a day -- and spending up to $15,000 a year on drugs. Two of the women arrested last night had syringes hidden in their clothes.
A male suspect wore a T-shirt that said: "Life is full of difficult decisions." He was a passenger in a car whose driver stopped to talk to an undercover officer.
"I yelled out the window, 'She's a police officer,' " the man said. "She looked too clean to be out on the street."
Pub Date: 8/01/97