Six ar­rested in Elk­ton pros­ti­tu­tion sting

Cecil Whig - - & - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

NE­WARK, DEL.

— 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.

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