The city of Dallas, Texas is known for many things, amongst them, the Dallas Cowboys and all the oil money. Lately, though, there has emerged a dark side to the city with illegal activity on the rise.
Because of the easy access to highways and commercial routes, Dallas has attracted a lot of illegal activity, especially prostitution.
Speaking to CBN News, Dallas Police Lt. Mike Coleman said,
“We’re in the south central part of Dallas. We’re very close to one of the major truck stops. There’s hotels; there’s a lot of traffic. We’re next to a major thoroughfare next to I-20, and so you get a lot of transient people that come in and out. It’s a fertile ground for prostitutes.”
The Dallas Police Department has taken drastic measures to tackle the problem that they are having with the high incidence of prostitution. The department is giving the prostitutes an opportunity to get off the streets and do something better with their lives rather than send them to jail.
Coleman is head of the department’s Prostitution Diversion Initiative (PDI), which is a partnership between Dallas police, Religious Organizations, Social Services and other organizations that focus on helping the prostitutes get off the streets.
The PDI program came about when the department kept arresting the same people for prostitution over and over again.
“It allows us to move the prostitutes from the wheel of going around in the criminal justice system on a regular basis to moving into a recovery mode. [We] realized we were not going to arrest our way out of this.”
The police treat the women as victims instead of criminals when they arrest them, explained Coleman, saying,
“When you treat them as a victim, that’s what allows them to get the services that they need for whatever is ailing them, be it drug addiction, be it whatever counseling needs they have, for whatever it is that’s causing them to be engaged in this lifestyle.”
Every month, one night is spent at a mobile command center close to a local truck stop and police arrest “night workers” who find a lot of their “clients” at the stop. The women are then given the option of going to jail or starting a new life through the program. Although the PDI 45-day program does have religious partners, the program does offer non-religious ways for the women to turn their lives around.
Only those who are facing misdemeanor charges can participate in the program which offers services such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation and counseling.
Renee Breazeale, a community liaison for PDI, notes that most of the street walkers are women who have endured many years of pain and suffering before turning to prostitution.
“Eighty to eighty-five percent of them will acknowledge and are able to articulate childhood victimization, sexual abuse, physical abuse, exploitation, deprivation,” says Breazeale.