Six arrested in Elkton prostitution sting
— Investigators arrested six women in Elkton during their latest uncover operation targeting street prostitution, police reported Monday.
With Elkton Police Department officers posing as customers, or “Johns,” while cruising around town in unmarked vehicles, this most recent sting started on July 21 and focused on activity in the 200 block of West Main Street, Landing Lane and Mackall Street, police said.
EPD officers assigned to the Street Level Crimes Unit have identified those streets as prostitution problem spots, and they have nabbed numerous alleged prostitutes in similar covert operations in those areas during the past two years, police added.
“Since May alone, we have charged 11 women with prostitution in Elkton,” reported Capt. Joseph Zurolo, an EPD spokesman. “We have really picked up our anti-prostitution enforcement recently, and we will continue.”
To avoid bogging down the undercover operation, officers posing as customers would arrest the women after they allegedly had made sex-for-money propositions — but those officers would defer filing criminal charges against the suspects until a later time or later date, police reported.
“They would take them into custody, process them and then release them, rather than file charges at that time. That way, they could get back on the streets faster to concentrate on the anti-prostitution enforcement,” Zurolo outlined, noting that it takes quite a bit of time to file criminal charges.
Officers would file charges after the sting for that particular day had concluded, he said.
“We tried to be unpredictable. We varied the times of day that we were out (conducting the undercover operation), as well as the days of
ELKTON 3 from Newark heading west to fight wildfires
— Three Newarkers are headed west to help fight wildfires in the Rocky Mountain region.
Charles Collins, Adam Keever and Monica Testa are part of a 20-person team from the Delaware Forest Service that left Monday for Denver. Once they arrive, they will be designated for a specific assignment.
Currently, 26 large fires have burned more than 232,000 acres in 12 states. Four new large fires were recently reported in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida and Wyoming.
Delaware has been dispatching a crew almost every year since 1998. Firefighters are a mix of public agency employees, recruits from volunteer fire companies and private citizens with an interest in fighting wildfires. the week that we were doing it,” Zurolo explained.
Arrested and charged with prostitution in this latest sting operation are Rolanda L. Brennan, 36, of Elkton; Katelyn M. Cullum, 22, of North East; Donna L. Hickman, 25, of Elkton; Ashley E. Parkhill, 21, of Elkton; and Shannon Phillips, 45, of Newark, Del., according to Cecil County District Court records.
As of Monday afternoon, the name of the sixth women arrested had not been made public record because she had not been issued formal charging documents.
Meanwhile, EPD officers are continuing to use another tactic to battle prostitution, one they adopted in early June.
The method involves a “warning or advisory letter” that officers send to the owner of any vehicle seen driving in known prostitution areas “in a way that indicates the driver was attempting to solicit a prostitute,” police reported.
“This fills the gap for those times when we know someone is trawling for prostitutes because we witness certain indicators, but we still don’t have enough probable cause to make an arrest. Often suspicious activity is observed, such as a known prostitute getting in or out of a vehicle, but the officer has no probable cause for an arrest,” Zurolo said in June.
He added, “We believe this tactic will be a great deterrent by making the known areas of prostitution activity less attractive to prospective Johns or customers.”
Investigators could witness suspicious driving or interaction with known prostitutes while conducting surveillance in “known prostitution areas” in town or they could overtly observe such driving or interaction while patrolling in those spots, Zurolo explained.
“We have sent out about a half dozen letters to men who were seen in known prostitution areas since we started,” Zurolo said Monday.
This year, four are from the Delaware Forest Service, two from DNREC Division of State Parks, one from U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Prime Hook Wildlife Area and one from New Castle County. Six crewmembers, including Collins, are rookies marking their first assignment on a wildfire crew.
Firefighters must prepare both mentally and physically for the annual fire season and achieve certification by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. In addition to annual training courses held in the spring, crew members must complete a rigorous work-capacity test by carrying 45-pounds over a threemile course in less than 45 minutes.
Although compensated by federal funds, all members volunteer for what could become a perilous mission.
The Delaware crew will be deployed for approximately two weeks.