Police work is a profession that the great majority of us wouldn’t even consider for a million bucks a year—let alone the 28 grand it actually pays at the outset. Face off with criminals on a street corner with the rules of engagement clearly favoring the lawbreakers? No way for most of us! But not all police work is inherently dangerous. And not all cops are involved in assignments that necessarily “protect and serve.”
Enter the NYPD vice cop, a detective whose job all too often is to apprehend perpetrators of victimless crimes. Now a victimless crime is already an oxymoron. If there’s no victim…where’s the crime in the first place? And why are the taxpayers getting billed for man hours in the pursuit of basically nothing? Well, some voters don’t like the idea that one human being may choose to derive his or her living from selling sexual favors to another. Whether the majority feels that this is a private matter between consulting adults or not, the laws are on the books and for whatever reason, the NYPD devotes what I consider to be an inordinate amount of manpower to controlling prostitutes—or what I call sex prostitutes—as I feel the world at large is prostituting itself in one way or another. It’s just that some forms are legal—and others aren’t.
In police circles, the vice squad is viewed with some ambivalence. Many cops involved in the apprehension of thieves, muggers and killers have agreed with me that hounding ho’s for a living isn’t about making a difference. And many who are tricks themselves recognize the hypocrisy of one teammate buying sexual activity just minutes before another busts in to arrest the individual for conducting exactly that kind of activity.
Whatever…I’m not a “protect and serve” kind of guy. So if I were a cop…I’m going with the vice assignment. I mean…what a deal. All day long, I’m checking out hooker ads in print and on the internet. Nice! Hard work if you can get it. After surveying the field, I commence to calling the girls and once having gained entry into the apartment and been offered sex for money, arrest them, scare them to death, take their money, drag them down to the precinct—and then ask them out for a date once they’re released. Now we’re talkin’! This might be a slight to extreme exaggeration—but then again?!?!
A few months ago, a young waif-like Dominican cutie named Layla bragged to me “Hey, Billy! We got busted yesterday (for prostitution). But it’s cool. The cops were really nice and two of them are gonna come back to see me” (which meant that two of the arresting officers found her fetching enough to socialize with the perp—and even propose that they come back at a later date to pay her for sex). Is this the exceptional circumstance? Well if it is…it isn’t the only one of its kind.
Another more mature but equally attractive girl named Donnatella didn’t exactly date any of the vice cops who arrested her—but she did hook up for a long term relationship with one of the policemen down at the precinct where she was booked—a fortuitous liaison which allowed her to access key information which kept her from once again being apprehended by the long arm of the law.
On another awkwardly bizarre occasion, vice cops busted a transsexual named Miriam, widely accepted as The Big Apple’s most beautiful he/she. One of the officers confessed that she’d been targeted because of her undeniable beauty. Unfortunately, the squad didn’t read the part about her being “9 inches and fully functional.” Imagine their surprise upon discovering that “her” name was Hugo! After that the flirting stopped. Apparently, there were no tranny chasers on that squad. Just six guys who couldn’t read!
To fully understand the position of power a vice cop has over a prostitute, knowledge of the actual MO of the arrest procedure is paramount. The police apprehend prostitutes in one of three ways. Neighbor complaints concerning prostitutes working in residential apartments is the first. Beat cops noticing questionable activity is the second. And finally—and most prevalent—is scanning print ads and escort websites to fish up a few mermaids.
So basically, a vice cop turns on the computer—or walks to the corner to pick up a paper—and decides who’s the target for that day. Some five or six undercover officers hit the street in an unmarked van and begin calling numbers trying to convince whichever girl that he’s a horny guy looking for some action—and not a vice cop looking to drag her off to the pokie.
And this is not that simple. Prostitutes are constantly on the lookout for policemen trying to bust them and as a result, ask a lot of questions (mostly about what they do for a living) in addition to requesting work IDs, corporate credit cards, and basically anything they hope a cop can’t come up with. Naturally, the squad is aware of this and does have phony business cards printed etc. in an attempt to gain entry. The cat and mouse games morph and evolve over time. But the fundamentals always apply.
Once the cop is in, it becomes the officer’s job to convince the girl to verbally offer sex for money—all without disrobing (which the law says he can’t do). Knowing this, the girls generally say nothing and instead, subject the prospective client to what they euphemistically call a “security check,” which in reality is simply the girl blowing the guy for a couple of strokes to ensure that the entrant isn’t a gendarme.
Once the first cop is inside (the resdence—that is), the inevitable bang at the apartment door comes next. And that’s when the fun really starts. “Police!! Open up!!” The girls have about five to ten seconds to open the door before five more detectives actually blow the door down with a battering ram. The procedure is the same as if the police were busting a crack den inhabited by crazed gun-slinging thugs—with the slight exception that the girls have only g-strings, rubbers and lubrication with which to defend the onslaught. There are no guns or weapons of any kind in a whore house. Working girls aren’t that stupid. Prostitution is a misdemeanor—a momentary zit associated with the premenstrual syndrome. A gun charge is something very different. Hence, ho’s don’t carry guns!
Regardless, the experience is not an enjoyable one for the girls. The entire show is designed to surprise and essentially scare the crap out of criminals who might be dangerous. The fact that the procedure is almost the same whether the police are busting in on violent felons or simply harmless prostitutes is simply a matter of procedure. A criminal is a criminal in the eys of the law regardless of the offense.
So now what you have is a gaggle of scared-shitless girls praying that one of the vice cops will act like a human being (which many actually do). Dude! What a set up. How easy would it be to befriend a girl in a situation like that? Wow! To review…I’m getting paid to check out ho ads…call up bootylicious babes…scare them to death…and then dry their tears to court their favor? Now that’s a gig I could get used to—like in a hurry! I definitely wanna be a vice cop. But wait! It gets better!
Any materials used in the commission of a crime are subject to confiscation—which means phones, computers and (hello) MONEY are all fair game. Now I really wanna be a vice cop! Police protocol dictates that anything taken from the premises must be vouchered and returned if the defendant is found “not guilty.” And to be fair, this protocol IS obeyed by the police—sometimes. But recently the girls would beg to differ—especially in the Korean community.
It doesn’t take a microbiologist to realize there are a lot of Asian prostitutes in New York. All you have to do is pick up a variety of publications to view numerous “bodywork” ads featuring Asian ladies. The Koreans (according to them) have been targeted mercilessly by the vice squad in recent months. They run from the papers to advertise on the internet in an attempt to avoid the ubiquitous eye of the NYPD, only to get busted literally just days after they open a business regardless.
What’s unique in the Korean community is the girls’ penchant for hoarding money in the apartment where they work. Now, most flatbackers know to get the money out of the apartment in case a cop or robber enters. But Koreans with no green cards who sleep where they work somehow find it necessary to be close to their money. They can’t get a bank account and they have nobody to entrust with their greenbacks.
When asked why she kept her money in the apartment rather than give it to somebody for safekeeping, one lady named Yuki explained “I used to give money to my brother but he spent it all.” So what’s a girl to do? On the one hand, it’s difficult to feel sorry for girls who make thousands of dollars a week in cash. But when they lose all their money…it seems sad that they service all manner of gross strangers only to be hand-cuffed, dragged off, and relieved of all their cash at the end of the day.
To calculate the amount of money involved here let’s do the math. If a house services an average of ten clients per day, the incoming number is in the neighborhood of two grand daily. And if everybody hoards their money on premise, within a week—even if they pay some bills and rent—there’s a good chance there might be several thousand dollars in the apartment. Wow! I don’t just wanna be a vice cop now…I wanna be a dirty vice cop. But then there’s that darned voucher system. What’s up wit’ dat?
And here we enter a very gray area. According to several girls, they often get no vouchers at all for the impounded money. William Knisley, one of several lawyers who represents these girls in court says “There has been at least one occasion on which the cops have presented a voucher at the precinct while not giving the girls a copy for themselves.”
But the girls aren’t buying it. According to them, if they do get a voucher, it’s only for $4800 of the ten grand the police took—according to Yuki—and $400 of the three grand the police impounded from another owner named Nana. Regardless of the disposition of the case, the girls emphasize that they never see the money either way.
Prostitutes of the transsexual variety tell a different story though. In the case of Silver and Carla, all their materials WERE returned when the case was dismissed and on balance, they had no issues with the arresting officers. If I were a vice cop, I know I would be tempted to appropriate some of the money for my own personal recreation—which is why I could never be a vice cop. Or could I?
Exactly where is this money supposed to go—and where is it really going? In theory, seized assets are channeled into a program called “asset forfeiture,” an initiative designed to pay police overtime and purchase equipment for the department, economically legitimizing the entire pursuit of bustiing prostitutes. But in reality, the apparent laxity surrounding the entire voucher situation might lead a reasonable human being to wonder. I don’t pretend to have the answer to this question. But the girls feel differently. They’re convinced they’re getting robbed and ridiculous as it may seem to some, they feel like victims—written laws notwithstanding!
Either way, I think government is on the wrong track here altogether. The last time I checked, no girl ever knocked a guy over the head, dragged him into her apartment and made him fork over $200 for a blow job. Why is prostitution illegal in the first place? Does it spread disease? I doubt it. No hooker I ever spoke to made a guy invade her without a rubber! And when it comes to safe sex practices…these girls know how to wrap your package with their mouths without you even realizing! And if you are a citizen concerned about the health risks, wouldn't it be better to legalize, license and medically inspect sex workers? Furthermore, how can our elected officals legally derive significant revenue from the sale of liquor and tobacco—both of which I consider far more detrimental to society than prostitution—and arrest working girls who essentially pose no threat to society? Where’s the logic in all this? From a practical standpoint, the very fact that revenue generated from vice stays in the department—while monies from traffic and parking tickets goes to The City—speaks to why The NYPD is so vigilant as regards prostitution arrests. HELLO! They keep the money. Whatever…give me a gun, a badge and a copy of The New York Press and let me go play with the girls and get paid for it! It’s official I DEFINITELY WANNA BE A VICE COP! Unfortunately, I’m too old! Bummer!