Copwatch - a project of Peace and Justice Works


Site Navigation

About us
People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Cool links
Other Information
Contact info


Neighbors Call for Prostitution Free Zones' Return, Cops Try Other Tactics

Concern about prostitution on 82nd Ave has filled the pages of Portland's newspapers. Headlines which might be considered clever, but which only demean the women involved in prostitution, scream out such things as "Sirens vs. Sirens" and "Whore-R Stories." Much of the blame for what is considered a problem by police and neighbors is placed on the dismantling of the Prostitution Free Zones (PFZs). A September 12 Oregonian editorial stated that the city needs to reinstate the PFZs, though Mayor Potter indicated he will not reauthorize them. The editorial referenced a program being instituted by Potter and Chief Sizer, which involves stepped up police patrols, cracking down on johns, closer collaboration with the courts, and exclusion from the neighborhoods as a condition of probation if the alleged prostitute is convicted and placed on probation. Violation can result in jail time. Their plan also calls for counseling, treatment and increased services. The editorial doesn't consider the Potter/Sizer plan sufficient and wants the PFZ reinstated so "officers can cite prostitutes and remove them quickly." The editorial addressed the issue of violations of civil rights in exclusionary zones only by pointing out that most prostitutes are white, while Drug Free Zones were eliminated due to racial disparity (PPR #43). Neighborhood associations also want the PFZ reinstated.

Commissioner Randy Leonard wanted to put in place the strategy being used in Old Town/Chinatown for arresting drug dealers and users and "offering more slots in rehab for addicts" (Oregonian, September 14). But tactics employed by the police involved in this strategy have raised issues of constitutional rights being denied (see "Secret List" article in this issue).

In September, Portland police conducted a survey of suspected prostitutes on 82nd. After one woman was observed waving at passing cars, she was given a "choice" by police of getting cited or filling out the survey. Choice??? The survey asked questions regarding prior arrests for drug use and how personal lives have affected career choices. Many of the women indicated they were engaging in prostitution because of money. Police also engaged in undercover "missions" on 82nd with male officers posing as johns and female officers as prostitutes (Willamette Week, September 17).

Crystal Tenty, sex industry outreach coordinator for Portland Women's Crisis Line, asked the prostitutes about what they need, as no one from City Hall had done so. At a community forum, she expressed concern that the discussions about the issue have been dominated by neighborhood associations, police and politicians, but it is vital to have input from sex workers as well. She also pointed out that there are few opportunities for the women to make a livable wage ( Portland Mercury , September 18).

On November 26, City Council allotted $250,000 to LifeWorks Northwest to help up to 60 women "finding jobs, housing, mentors and the psychological wherewithal to change direction" (Oregonian, December 1).

The October 16 Mercury reported that prostitution has decreased, as an apparent result of undercover stings. However, as with Sit/Lie and other such laws, the problem has just moved elsewhere­in this case, to North and Northeast Portland.

The Mercury Blog reported December 10 that City Council had created an "82nd Avenue Prostitution Advisory Committee to oversee the city's anti-prostitution efforts...and to advise the Police Bureau and the City Council." Unsurprisingly, it is made up of representatives from the police, the neighborhood, and the courts, but are not of the women themselves or of service providers who assist them.

  People's Police Report

January, 2009
Also in PPR #46

Railroad Police Shoot Near Portland Cops
  • Cops Bragged About "Tackling" James Chasse
  • Shootings and Deaths In and Around Oregon

Lawsuit Changes Policy on Taping Police
Oversight Report Skewed for Public Relations
Review Board Holds Only 1 Hearing in 2009
Updates PPR 46
  • Racial Profiling Committee Dismissed
  • Cops Create Rules for "Secret List"
Sheriff Skipper Talks to Copwatch
  • Sheriff Jail Deaths, Sick Leave in Headlines
Sit/Lie Report: Sign Boards OK, Not People
  • Anti-Camping Update
Portland to Revive Prostitution Free Zones?
Chief Sizer Remains Bureau Head--For Now
Taser Danger: Portland Cases in the News
Family Settles Suit: Excessive Force in Raid
Rapping Back #46

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #46 Table of Contents
Back to Portland Copwatch home page
Peace and Justice Works home page
Back to top