Some residents of the Logan Circle area, outraged by escalating prostitution activity in their neighborhood, have asked police to block traffic from some streets and to provide protection for residents who plan to warn motorists about sexually transmitted diseases.
Police officials and City Council member John Wilson (D-Ward 2) met with about 100 residents of the area at the Mount Olivet Lutheran Church Wednesday night to discuss the problem. Police indicated that they would work with the residents and Wilson announced that he had introduced legislation to establish mandatory minimum sentences and fines for prostitution.
During the last two weeks, some residents began a campaign to get rid of the prostitutes in the Northwest neighborhood. Some spent several hours standing on street corners near scantily clad women to hand out leaflets providing information on venereal diseases and acquired immunity deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Others, without police permission, used barriers to direct traffic away from residential blocks. Last weekend, a confrontation broke out between residents and women on the corners when some women began throwing bottles at a group of about 35 residents, according to residents and police.
On Saturday, residents said they plan to stand on corners between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. in an attempt to reduce the business for prostitutes.
"We're not seeking confrontations," said Robert Maffin, a Logan Circle resident who is active in the community movement. "We're simply saying by being there that this is part of a residential area that should be free of this kind of activity."
Maffin said that women who live in the area "are constantly harassed by pimps and johns" and "our doors and back yards are left with the aftermath of sexual contact."
Ed Black, a resident of the area and a member of the District's Democratic State Committee, said that the neighborhood between 13th and 14th streets NW and surrounding Logan Circle has been inundated with prostitutes. He said residents are especially concerned about blocks along Kingman Place, Q, P, and N streets, and Rhode Island Avenue. "If there is an inability in our city government to cure a massive crime problem like this, than somebody is doing something wrong," said Black.
Complaints about prostitution in the Logan Circle area are not new. In recent years, the city has established two task forces to deal with the problem. But residents say that the number of prostitutes has increased, causing other crime problems and traffic jams.
Deputy Police Chief Rodwell Catoe, who met with Logan Circle residents Wednesday night, said yesterday that he amonished residents about blocking streets without police permission and told them that the police will work with them to solve the problem.
Police Sgt. John Brennan of the police department's prostitution unit, said yesterday that the unit made 1,412 prostitution arrests last year and 670 arrests this year.
He said some prostitutes begin work in the Logan Circle area as early as 8 a.m. and some are still on the streets at 3 a.m.
Brennan estimated that on any given night from 80 to 100 prostitutes can be found in the area.
In an effort to address what some District residents have characterized as the court system's leniency toward prostitution, council member Wilson introduced a bill Wednesday to increase the maximum penalty, a $300 fine and 90 days, for prostitution. Under Wilson's bill, the penalty for inviting or enticing anyone for prostitution would be a minimum fine of $300 for the first offense, a minimum fine of $300 and 10 days for the second offense and a minimum fine of $300 and 90 days for each subsequent offense.