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Tampa police announce new rule to fight prostitution TAMPA — Police announced a new rule Thursday night that has helped them arrest prostitutes near infamous Nebraska Avenue — even when they're not caught in the act. Called the "prostitution exclusion zone," the area runs esvourts Florida Avenue to the west, Fowler Avenue to the north, 15th Street to the east and Seventh Avenue to the south.
Down the center runs Nebraska Avenue, a corridor that long has been known for prostitution — much to the chagrin of neighborhood leaders in the University Community Area, Old Seminole Heights and V. Six more have had the condition added to their sentences, said Capt. Lee Bercaw, a Tampa police officer. Now I can drive at in the morning and not see anyone on the streets," said Irene Matthews, 56, of Southeast Seminole Heights.
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The announcement comes on the heels of other efforts to fight prostitution and other illicit activity in the city. The Tampa City Council has increased fines for johns and drug users.
The new exclusion zone is neither a law nor a city ordinance. Ewcourts, it's a rule that judges can include as a condition of probation for anyone convicted of felony prostitution.
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It can also be part of a pretrial intervention. A judge makes the decision. Anyone breaking the condition could be arrested on a violation of probation charge, though the booking likely wouldn't be immediate. Authorities would need to run the circumstances by probation officials first.
And there are exceptions: Those convicted of felony prostitution could go inside the area for doctor appointments, probation meetings, social services, to see an attorney or to go to work. If such a person lives in the zone, authorities could tailor the condition or the person might have to move, said Assistant State Attorney Mike Sinacore.
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He said that in addition to cleaning up the Nebraska corridor, he hopes the program will help rehabilitate offenders who would otherwise keep returning. It could make it easier for police to do something about a prostitution complaint. Before, when someone reported an apparent prostitute was walking the street, officers couldn't do much.
To make an arrest, they had to witness a crime — such as a drug deal or exchange of money for sex. That's why so many prostitution twmpa are made through undercover operations. Now, if suspicious people are covered under the program rules, an officer simply needs to see them inside the zone.
According to police in Sarasota — which has had an exclusion zone since — it works well. Paul Sutton. Teddy S. Green, 31, of Tampa was arrested Nov.
Police officers found him with cocaine and in violation of his felony ezcourts conviction. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. Bercaw said Green was one of the busiest sex workers in the area. Leon Burwell, 30, the first person arrested under the program last year, was well-known to officers in the area.
Burwell was released but rearrested Jan. Records show he was sentenced to days in jail for violating his probation conditions and trespassing in the zone.
Jay Reese, who works night patrol in the zone.