PORT RICHEY — Prostitution arrests are increasing as officials grapples with problems in pockets of the city, Police Chief Dave Brown told city council Tuesday night.
“There is a prostitution resurgence,” Brown said, and police are dealing with it as best as possible.
“Arrests are not always the answer,” Brown added. For the moment, that’s the best tool officers have to combat the crime.
“It’s an ongoing battle,” Brown said as prostitutes shift between several spots in the area.
Complaints from Matthew Todd, a Mallett Drive resident, during public comments sparked the discussion. By the time officers arrive at trouble spots, suspects often have scattered, he said.
Drugs, prostitution and gunfire in wooded areas can persist until near dawn every day, Todd said. He suggested the city add a detective and a narcotics unit to the city police force.
“You need to focus on one thing,” Todd said. “We need to contribute to the police department to be able to help Chief Brown do a better job.”
Councilwoman Nancy Britton acknowledged the resident’s frustration. For the 30 years she has lived in the vicinity, Britton said illegal drugs and prostitution persisted to varying degrees.
Britton, however, believes the problem is by no means exclusive to Port Richey. Other cities in the area and the state of Florida in general encounter similar problems.
Britton recalled that neighborhood groups in the past enjoyed some success in suppressing illegal activities.
Todd said the problems could drive down property values. “You’re driving people out of the city to go to Tarpon Springs. If I’m going to pay higher taxes, I’m going to go live in a better city. I’m going to go to Tarpon Springs.”