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Arlington police run prostitution sting on Park Row Drive

Police are investing a new hot spot for prostitution in east Arlington. Nine men were arrested for soliciting sex along Park Row Drive east of Texas 360 on Friday.

Officers conducted the one-day sting in response to complaints from residents and business owners, who said prostitutes were walking the streets and also approaching men for sex as they left convenience stores, Lt. Jerry Hataway said.

Investigators believe the women live in low-rent apartments on Park Row Drive between Watson Road and Susan Drive. The men arrested Friday drove to the area, stopped to talk with female undercover officers dressed as prostitutes and then followed those women back to an apartment for sex, Hataway said.

It was the department’s first undercover prostitution sting since March. Arlington police have made 61 prostitution-related arrests this year, according to police statistics.

“We want to get the message out to the public we are not going to tolerate this. If we can get the men to stop picking up the women, maybe we can make a difference,” Hataway said.

The prostitution activity in east Arlington surprised resident Jackie Quillian, who lives in an apartment in the targeted areas.

“That’s a shame,” said Quillian, who was walking in Carl Knox Park on Wednesday. “You usually hear about them off Division and near the ballpark.”

Quillian said she believes prostitutes may have moved to her neighborhood because of the police enforcement in other parts of town.

Police made a big push last year to crack down on prostitution along Division Street and the Texas 360 service road in north Arlington, both of which are gateways to the city’s rapidly growing entertainment district.

The council approved an ordinance last year that would allow police to ticket known prostitutes who are loitering or flagging down vehicles. And the police department made news for posting images of those arrested on suspicion of prostitution on the city Web site and mailing postcards with information about sexually transmitted diseases to their homes.

So far this year, half the prostitution arrests have been made on Division Street.

Hataway said undercover officers will continue investigating activity along Park Row Drive and may target the prostitutes instead of their male customers next.