LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — In what may be a first for the digital age, police in Prince George’s County will be live tweeting a prostitution sting next week.
The department announced the plans Thursday morning, adding they will not disclose when or where the sting will be taking place.
“From the ads to the arrests, we’ll show you how the PGPD is battling the oldest profession,” police said in a press release. “Suspect photos and information will be tweeted. We’re using this progressive, and what we believe unprecedented, social media tactic to warn any potential participants that this type of criminal behavior is not welcome in Prince George’s County.”
The announcement was met with a heavy dose of criticism and backlash on social media, however. Police say the outrage was sparked by misunderstanding. The department issued a press release clarifying the operation’s focus in hopes of alleviating concerns officers would be targeting prostitutes and not those attempting to pay for sex.
“Our Vice Unit will target those who choose to solicit a prostitute, not prostitutes themselves,” the release stated. “The intent all along has been to put on notice and/or arrest the very people who exploit women and even young girls in our community.”
Authorities are hoping the social media experiment will act as a disincentive for potential child sex offenders.
“Some young girls and women involved in prostitution are victims of human trafficking,” police said. “Our Vice Unit regularly helps trafficked women connect with groups and advocates who help them escape the dangerous sex trade. We’re hoping the advance notice we’ve provided acts as a deterrent to would-be johns who choose to engage in this illegal behavior. This is another example of our department’s commitment to transparency.”
Police will be using the hashtag #PGPDVice while documenting the sting. The department’s official Twitter account is @PGPDNews.
@PGPDNews this is disgusting. What a violating & exploitative endeavor. Shame on you for exploiting vulnerable women like this.
— Emma (@iemcanadian) May 1, 2014
— W.E.B.B.I.E DuBois (@fivefifths) May 1, 2014
— Tommy Moore (@strangestrings) May 1, 2014
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