Vice Squad
Sunday, August 26, 2007
A Vice Career

Vice Squad has temporarily decamped for Baltimore, where today's Baltimore Sun contains this notice of the retirement of a police officer who spent half of his career with the, er, vice squad. I have no reason to doubt the integrity of this officer, but I found the story rather depressing. He recounts arrest after arrest, including those of the clergy members he collared (sorry) while posing as a male hustler, and of female prostitutes with various disabilities. (The story claims he made 5,000 prostitution arrests and 1,000 gambling arrests.) I recognize that under any regulatory system the public manifestations of prostitution have to be controlled, but our prohibition leads to so many unnecessary arrests, while simultaneously putting prostitutes at great risk from violent crime. The officer is a wine aficionado -- I hope that in his forthcoming book he can make the connection between social costs and vice prohibition.

The prostitution arrest drumbeat is every bit as regular, but not as intense, as the drug arrest drumbeat. Search Google News for 'prostitution' and you can read of the latest toll, in community after community in the US -- and all for behavior that in much of the world is neither illegal nor a matter of public interest.

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