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|Police: Despite TV reports, no increased violence among Midtown crossdressing prostitutes|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|May 17, 2012 17:28|
11Alive and WSB-TV went on air Wednesday night with sensational segments that stated cross-dressing and "transvestite" prostitutes were terrorizing residents living in Midtown. The commander of the Atlanta Police Department's vice unit said Thursday the stories are not true.
The neighborhood in question is Piedmont Avenue and 3rd Street as well as Myrtle Street. Both stations interviewed residents of the area who alleged there were prostitute gangs as well as prostitutes approaching residents and threatening them.
"Ten or twelve prostitutes standing in the streets waving at cars, shaking their booty, wearing prostitute clothes," resident Michael Orloff told 11Alive. "There are times when the prostitutes actually get into arguments amongst themselves over a john.
And on WSB-TV, Graham Balch said prostitutes have confronted him "on several occasions."
"I have experienced some who are very aggressive to me. Who swore at me, came after me," Balch said.
Lt. Scott Kreher, commander of the vice unit for the APD, said there is no evidence of prostitute gangs or increased violence.
"I'm not really sure why it was reported like that," he said Thursday in a phone interview. "There is no more violence there than in any other part of the city, whether female or male prostitutes.
"There has been no evidence any increased violence," he added. "And we've done details there as much as any other part of the city. We don't see any evidence of pimp or prostitute gangs."
When residents approach prostitutes, however, there may be issues, Kreher added.
"[T]he only violence I see is when citizens approach the prostitutes and are trying to challenge them," he said. "I don't see it [violence] any other way."
For example, one Midtown resident living in this neighborhood, Steve Gower, who is gay, has for years followed prostitutes in a Midtown Ponce Security Alliance car and is known for shining a spotlight in their faces.
"And if someone shines a 50-kazillion spotlight in my face, I'm not going to be happy about it either," Kreher said.
The APD makes sweeps in areas know for prostitution in the summer months, Kreher added, including Midtown.
Kreher said there is no evidence of "prostitute gangs" and that prostitutes do travel typically in pairs for safety reasons.
When asked if these prostitutes were transsexual or transgender women, Kreher said no, that they were men who dressed as women.
"They are mostly men dressed as women, not transsexuals or transgender," he said, adding that LGBT liaison Officer Brian Sharp often accompanies the vice unit on details and trains the officers on transgender issues.
The word "transvestite" is also considered a slur by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
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