We'd just pulled up to the corner of Kiest Boulevard and Polk Street in Southwest Dallas this afternoon when a guy in a black Ford Escort rolled down his window to talk to a pony-tailed undercover vice cop. She'd been milling around outside a car wash in a swimsuit and tank top, baiting guys looking for a paid mini-vacation, as it were. She gave the signal to squad cars hidden out of sight, and as soon as the Escort pulled away, it was cop lights on and blow-job lights out for John Doe.
"Were there two people in the car?" another reporter asked the vice detective driving us around. "Yeah, maybe. I don't know."
A call came over the radio a couple minutes later that answered our question in the worst possible way. "Baby's mother says she'll be here in a while to come pick him up."
So yeah, there were two people in the car. One of them was less than a year old.
Bad timing for Baby Daddy John Doe. He was what our vice detective escort called a "loser." Not only is he the kind of schmuck who solicits sex, but he solicited from a cop. On media day.
The Dallas Police Department is deep into its highly publicized summer anti-crime initiative, Operation Triangle, in which they're targeting property crime, violent crime and public disorder. Prostitution falls into the latter category. DPD spokesman Senior Corporal Kevin Janse says that prostitution is often the glue that holds many different crimes together. "You can make a direct link between violent crime and property crime and prostitution. It's all a big circle."
So far, Janse says the DPD has arrested 178 individuals on prostitution charges -- that could be johns or hookers -- since June 9. Last year, for the entire summer, they arrested 193. Many come from sting operations like the one the media was invited to sit in on today. It's pretty simple: A couple of female officers get dolled up in their hooker best and reel in guys looking for a good time while squad cars and a paddy wagon wait nearby. The undercover cop gets the would-be john to talk about doing a sexual act for a price, and the case is made.
It's hard to feel sorry for a john, even when they're tricked by an undercover operation, because they so clearly have sex-fueled tunnel vision. Once they spot the undercover hookers, they slam on the brakes like someone with a crisp green one in his pocket who's just passed a McDonald's with a particularly enticing dollar menu. "Actually, I think I will have a shake," they say to themselves, peeling toward the prize. Little do they know, these shakes are tainted. With the dirty e-coli of a $2,000 fine and/or 180 days in jail.
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Janse says cops rarely pick up a john who's already got a prostitution charge on his record, which, he thinks, means they're learning their lesson once they get caught. On media day, johns are confronted with a wall of cameras and mouthy reporters shoving to get in there first -- "What do you think about all this? You surprised?" So that's maybe a double deterrent.
One guy rolled in -- probably wasn't much more than 20 or so -- in a Hollister T-shirt and khaki shorts, coulda been an assistant manager at a retail store. With his head hanging, refusing to answer questions, he looked on the verge of tears. Another guy in a wide-brimmed hat looked nothing so much as drunk, while the lawn care worker towing a riding mower was totally taken aback.
Baby Daddy John Doe turned out to be one 25-year-old Christopher Middleton. A background search reveals prior arrests for burglary, unlawful possession of a weapon and marijuana. Doesn't sound like he was exactly in the running for father of the year. A misdemeanor prostitution charged has now been added to his rap sheet.
Often, says the vice detective I rode with, the excuses johns give is simply that they're not getting enough at home. If the well was dry before, I imagine it goes into a downright drought once these johns' ladies hear about their sexual shopping habits.