So far, “prostitution stings” have been the Salem Police’s weapon of choice for fighting prostitution in Salem.The Salem Police Department is working to end prostitution in the city. With tips from community members and neighborhood watch groups, Salem Police has managed to keep local prostitution to a minimum. In some cases, they’ve been able to clean up entire areas.

So far, “prostitution stings” have been the Salem Police’s weapon of choice for fighting prostitution in Salem. “Sometimes we have female officers pose as prostitutes, and then we arrest the johns that solicit their services,” said Sergeant Russ Isham of the Salem Police’s Community Response Team, a department devoted specifically to drug and prostitution investigations. “Other times, we will do role reversals and have male police officers posed as johns. We then arrest the prostitutes who offer sexual services to the undercover male officers.”

The Community Response Team does not conduct prostitution stings on a regular basis. They are usually conducted in response to community complaints. “We usually conduct the stings after having received complaints from community members about prostitution in their residential neighborhoods,” said Isham. “We don’t usually conduct these stings on a regular interval.”

The time and location of stings are kept secret so as to catch prostitutes and johns off guard.

“Prostitutes tend to move around throughout the city,” said Isham. “So we don’t always know where we will be conducting the stings. Plus, we don’t want to give out information on where our stings will be conducted. Otherwise, the prostitutes and johns would know what parts of Salem to avoid. The trick is to stay one step ahead of the prostitutes and the johns.”

The most recent stings took place this past June. On Wednesday, June 22, two women were arrested for prostitution. On Thursday, June 23, 12 men were arrested for soliciting prostitutes. Additionally, three cars were towed for suspended drivers’ licenses, and one man was arrested for an outstanding prostitution warrant.

“It’s not that prostitution has gotten worse this year. Our efforts were just as great three or five years ago. Though the problem does tend to flare up more during the summer,” said Isham. The combined efforts of community members and the Community Response Team have been very effective in cleaning up Portland Road.

“Prostitution on Portland Road used to be a real problem,” said Isham. “But due to the combined efforts of law enforcement and concerned citizens, there is almost no prostitution on Portland Road anymore.” If you have any comments or concerns about prostitution in you area, Sergeant Russ Isham can be contacted at (503) 588- 6259.