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Cincinnati researching ways to curb sex trafficking

Cincinnati Council could vote Wednesday on two motions to crackdown on prostitution.  Both measures would focus more attention on the "johns" instead of the women involved.

Residents are giving mixed reactions to temporary barricades on McMicken Street that were setup to stop people from cruising for prostitutes.  Tony Walsh with the West McMicken Improvement Association said things have gotten better.  He called the barricades a drastic measure.

“And disrupt the patterns that people can just cut thru our street very easily, pick-up a girl, zoom out of there to get to the expressway or on Central Parkway and fly away very easily,” Walsh said.  “So now it’s a little harder to travel thru the area.  The neighbors in the area are willing to put up with that inconvenience if it makes a difference.”

The three temporary barricades are expected to remain in place for three months.  

Resident Vanessa Sparks is not supportive.  She said they were installed without many people knowing it was going to happen.

“Right now we feel like we’re being held hostage,” Sparks said.  “We feel like our rights are being violated.  And I’m not here just representing myself; I’m here representing the people who did not feel comfortable enough to come down to city hall.”

Mary Carol Melton is with Cincinnati Union Bethel, which has a program to help prostitutes called Off the Streets.  She said something has to change, because what has been happening is not working.

“We were trying to arrest our way out of this problem, and that’s not going to help,” Melton said.  “Desperate people do desperate things, and these are women who have found themselves in desperate situations.  I don’t think there’s anyone that I’ve ever met who woke up one day to say this is how I want to spend the rest of my life.”

City administrators will be preparing reports and reviewing recommendations for targeting "johns."  They will report back to city council once that work is complete.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.