Bakersfield police crack down on prostitution

Bakersfield police are cracking down on prostitution on Union Avenue. They've made nearly 200 arrests in the last six months and business owners say they can see a big difference.

Bakersfield police are cracking down on prostitution on Union Avenue. They've made nearly 200 arrests in the last six months, and business owners say they can see a big difference.

The most recent sting was on Monday. Police arrested 21 people for solicitation. It happened on Union Avenue where, police say, prostitution is a huge problem.

"I bought the store four months ago, and to be honest with you, it was pretty bad. They were all over," said Jesse Camolina, owner of Yum Yum Donuts.

Camolina was referring to prostitutes. He said frequently they would come into his Union Avenue store.

"It's pretty obvious who they are," said Camolina. "I don't want to say naked on the street, but close to that."

He said he doesn't see them around so much anymore.

"The last month I've seen less and less and less," said Camolina.

The same is true for the owner of Super Xpress Minimart.

"A lot of girls were hanging around and we don't see that so much now," said Jasbir Rial, owner of Super Xpress.

They says it's because police are cracking down.

"We've been calling the cops," said Camolina. "Obviously, I don't want that in my business. So, we try to do our part and call the police and they always respond."

Since August, the Bakersfield Police Department has conducted nine prostitution stings on Union Avenue making 190 arrests, 73 of those arrests are the result of four stings in the last two months.

"It's a quality of life issue," said Michaela Beard, Public Information Officer for the Bakersfield Police Department. "We want to utilize our efforts for the community."

Even with the arrests, organizations that try to rehabilitate prostitutes said commercial sex is still a problem.

"There's a constant flow," said Doug Bennett. "Sex never sleeps. The supply is there and the demand is there."

Doug Bennett of Magdalene Hope said sometimes arrests are a blessing, not only for the business, but a blessing for the women.

"If you are being forced out there to have sex with men and a police officer picks you up and takes you to jail, I would say that would be a nice little break," said Bennett. "You get something to eat, get some sleep and not having to worry about somebody raping you."

Police say one of the worst areas in the city for prostitution is on Union Avenue between Brundage Lane and California Avenue.

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