Slowly driving down Blue Hill Avenue in an unmarked police car on a recent weeknight, probation officer Edith Alexander spotted exactly what she and Boston Police detectives were looking for — a prostitute.
“Oh yeah, she doesn’t have any underwear on,” she said as the car passed the woman in a short, tight-fitting denim dress.
Later, Alexander spots the woman again, this time sitting at a bus stop — a common place, the officers said, for prostitutes to wait for potential customers.
Such prostitution patrols increased this summer after complaints about an increase in sex traffic between Columbia Road and Dudley Street. Alexander referred to it as “The Ave.”
Prostitution subsided after a push to rid the sex trade from “The Ave” around 1999. But with the recession, Alexander said, it has made a resurgence.
Some of the recent complaints have been that students waiting for buses have been solicited by customers because the prostitutes try to hide among the groups of students.
According to police, the goal of the stepped-up enforcement is not only to improve the quality of life along “The Ave,” but to get the women help. Many are feeding a drug habit, or were forced into the trade.
“If they have a record, we ask the court to hold them for 30 days to help get them cleaned up a bit,” said Lt. Trent Holland.
The woman spotted at the bus stop initially denied being a prostitute, but eventually admitted to being caught by Alexander on another occasion. Alexander and her fellow probation officer, Mary Ball, offered her help before she was let go.