Council gives 2nd approval to prostitution ordinance

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By The Staff

Lancaster County sheriff's deputies arrested eight people last year on prostitution charges.

If the sheriff's office had more manpower, it could make prostitution stings every night, with many arrests, sheriff's office spokesman Tom Holland told County Council on Monday night.

"We know what they're doing," Holland said. They know we know what they're doing."

Holland spoke to council members about a proposed ordinance that would help fight prostitution in areas of the county where prostitutes and those soliciting it are often arrested – around Brooklyn Avenue, Midway and Memorial Park road. Council passed first reading of the ordinance at its April 28 meeting, but wanted arrest numbers from the sheriff's office before moving on with second reading.

Holland said most prostitutes in Lancaster County are drug addicts who need money to feed their habits. He listed drug arrest numbers for the proposed prostitution exclusion areas, which include:

- Brooklyn Ave - 54 arrests

- Memorial Park Road area - 52

- Midway - 38

- Springdale Road area - 31

The prostitution-exclusion zone would ban a person from, for example, the Brooklyn Avenue area, for 90 days if that person is charged with prostitution or soliciting there.

Upon conviction, that person is banned from the area for one year. If the person is found by authorities in the area during that time, he or she will be charged with trespassing.

It's true that those engaging in prostitution may move elsewhere to commit the crimes, but the proposed ordinance says that the zones may be changed every three years, Holland said. The county may move the zones as needed.

Councilman Bryan Vaughn said he supports the ordinance, and if it's approved, he'd like to see more arrests for prostitution in those areas.

"I'm all for it," he said. "I have no problem in creating this zone."

Councilman Fred Thomas, whose district includes all three proposed exclusion areas, said because drugs are the root of the prostitution problem, it's important that council support drug rehabilitation programs such as Keystone Substance Abuse in Rock Hill. The Rock Hill center serves clients from Lancaster County.

"We're not even addressing the drug problem through this legislation," Thomas said.

Council unanimously approved second reading of the ordinance. With one more reading, the ordinance will take effect.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com (803) 283-1151