Prince George’s County Police Department in Maryland informed the public this past week that it would be tweeting live during a prostitution sting, according to a CBS News report on Monday. In the promotion of the police department’s plan, the press release said that the PGPD’s Vice Unit will conduct a prostitution sting that targets those soliciting prostitutes. The report said that the department would be tweeting it out as it happens.
The promotion went on to assert that cops on the beat will document their actions throughout the sting while arresting suspected johns and putting their unhappy faces on social media – in real time. Naturally, the department did not state exactly where and when the sting with accompanying social media-tweets would occur. The message from the Prince George’s County Police Department was to be loud and clear: This type of criminal behavior is not welcome in Prince George’s County.
Since the announcement of the plan, there were many concerns expressed, primarily expressed by citizens, about the plan. The concerns ranged from fears that there would be retaliation on the prostitutes themselves to the obvious concern of revealing the identity of the undercover police officers who would be shown on social media while they would be busting the alleged criminals. Also, the notion that persons (johns) would be assumed guilty in real-time without due process was of a major concern to many including the ACLU. In other words, the plan had some serious errors in judgment.
After the highly-publicized sting happened, it has been reported by the Washington Post on Wednesday that there were no arrests because no johns showed up. Additionally, it was reported that the live-Tweet nature of the operation had been altered to keep the identity of the authorities involved with the sting secret. In a word, the notion of going live with the prostitution sting “failed” in one way – but curbed prostitution, for a day, in another way.
In advertising the Prince George’s County Police’s antics, they released a statement saying that people can follow the police department on Twitter at @PGPDNews and follow the topic using the hashtag #PGPDVice.