Responding to heavy community complaints, Boston police officers from District C-11 are putting the "squeeze" on prostitutes who walk Dorchester Avenue.
"We were getting so many of them, we had to address it," said Capt. John Greland. "We depend on the community to tell us where they've seen them."
The campaign started back in October, with the district putting out extra cars. Officers have so far stopped about 82 prostitutes, working with the Suffolk County District Attorney's office to impose "stay away" orders for the areas the prostitutes have been picked up in.
"If we're not arresting them we're stopping them," Greland said.
Greland pointed to the case of one 33-year-old female, arrested on Dec. 1 on Dorchester Avenue, spotted several times in the area over a one hour period. She approached an undercover officer, asking him where he wanted to go, according to Greland, offered $50 for sex, and rattled off a string of other prices.
"This is the sort of stuff we've been targeting," he said.
Greland said much of the prostitution activity has been taking place between Fields Corner and Peabody Square. The area has historically had prostitution problems, back when nearby Freeport Street was more of a port than a street.
C-11's effort, sometimes labeled "Operation Squeeze," netted a huge early-morning haul back in December, including seven Johns, from both the North and South Shores and three from Dorchester.
The men allegedly involved in soliciting sex included: Paul John-Baptiste, 27, of Lynn; Nicholas Taylor, 19, of Milton; Richard Mace, 19, of Quincy; Roosevelt Wilkins, 41, of Roxbury; and William Reynolds, 27, and Hector Najera, 52, both of Dorchester.
Another four in the same car -including a 39-year-old from Dorchester, a 35-year-old from West Roxbury, a 46-year-old from Boston, and a 32-year-old from Revere-were picked up an hour later, but the operation had to be stopped due to their car having a firearm with a scratched-off serial number, according to police. Only one was soliciting a plainclothes officer for sex.
Community activists who prompted the campaign say the focused patrols are making a difference.
"I think his efforts are proving to be successful," said Michael Cote, a community activist who last fall unsuccessfully ran against District 3 Councilor Maureen Feeney, of Greland. "It hasn't been quite so bad. We've not seen so much now."
The problem was first noticed back in late summer early fall, north of Fields Corner, he said. "You'd see people loitering around." (Even the prostitutes were noticing the upsurge, Greland said.)
Cote noted that some of the prostitutes can move someplace else, and some likely have. "At least we can deal with it in Dorchester," he said.
Greland acknowledged that the prostitutes will likely flow to other neighborhoods, but said the best they can do is mitigate the problem.
"They don't call it the world's oldest profession for nothing," he said.