LAPD’s Vice Squad California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Friday that reversed the loitering law police used to crack down on human trafficking and prostitution in the Golden State.
Authored by San Francisco’s Democrat Sen. Scott Wiener, SB 357 repeals a law that criminalized “loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution.” He says the law gave law enforcement a subjective perception of whether a person is “acting like” or “looks like” they engage in prostitution—especially transgender, black, and brown women. However, Weiner says revoking the law would not decriminalize soliciting or engaging in prostitution.
But opposers of the bill — on and off the Senate floor — all conclude taking away authority to investigate such loitering cases creates an easier environment for traffickers, pimps, and prostitution.
Former Los Angeles Police Department vice sergeant Stephany Powell, who has since become the director of law enforcement training and survivor services at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said the bill would severely limit law enforcement’s ability to identify victims of human trafficking — including minors.
“Many officers rely on the loitering laws to initiate trafficking investigations that have led to serious convictions for traffickers and pimps,” Powell said in a statement . “SB 357 assumes that loitering laws are used to merely harass marginalized people, and by repealing them, these people will experience less discrimination from police. In reality, repealing loitering laws will only cause further harm to communities with existing poverty and high crime.”
CBS reported The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the 75,000-member Peace Officers Research Association of California also objected to the bill as it would make confronting those who commit prostitution-related crimes more difficult and Powell said in a tweet on Saturday that the “California bear has a tear in his eye” the day after Newsom signed the […]
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