Recent picture of Figueroa Street corridor (Facebook)

If you drive down the Figueroa Street corridor, you can see improvement.  The criminal activity, prostitution and dealing has gotten noticeably better over the last several months.  That is thanks to the leadership from the Offices of Mayor Bass, Councilmember Harris-Dawson, City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto and US Attorney Martin Estrada, along with focus and attention from the LAPD working with the FBI and DHS to build and sustain an initiative focused on the crime and trafficking along this corridor.  The initiative, as all participants agree, is not focused on arresting sex workers, whether adults or kids.  Instead, the work is about disrupting the demand and the customer base for underage prostitution, abating the nuisance motels, rescuing minors who have been trafficked, and building a case against the predators, pimps and profiteers who turn out our children on the Figueroa “kiddie stroll”.

Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides has been policing for over 25 years, she developed her skills in the central division located in downtown Los Angeles. (File Photo)

The statistics since this initiative got underway last year are remarkable with  62% reduction in homicides, 6.4% reduction in street robberies, and 10% reduction in aggravated assaults. Several motels have closed or are operating under security conditions, and more than 60 minors have been rescued from predators along the corridor.  And, if you ask Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides who has a vision for the corridor that provides clean, sustainable, environmentally friendly community space, this is just the start.  The notorious corridor was decades in the making and will take many more months, if not years, to resolve, but the numbers show a really good start.

Now the City of Los Angeles and the City Attorney’s Office are taking the lessons learned from this initiative and asking Sacramento for a few tools to keep the momentum going to protect our kids and close gaps in the law on the sex trafficking of minors.  Three of those bills are in process now and we support their passage.  The three are simple but necessary to the continuing efforts to protect our children from the scourge of sex trafficking and exploitation.

Asm. Mike Gipson (File photo)

Assembly Bill 2419, introduced by our own Assemblymember Mike Gipson, was passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee at its meeting on Tuesday April 2.   Today, under existing law, a magistrate judge can issue a search warrant for a misdemeanor sex act with a minor.  This bill would allow a magistrate judge to consider and issue a search warrant as a preventative measure to get at the solicitation of a minor for prostitution, before the minor is traumatized by the act itself.  The bill is limited to the issuance of a search warrant and requires probable cause on evidence under penalty of perjury, limited scope of what can be searched, limited scope of what can be taken or used as evidence and authority by an order issued by a magistrate judge.

AB 2419 has encountered some opposition, claiming that the seizure of cell telephone and other communications invades the privacy of runaway trans and LGBTQ youth.  The privacy concerns seem equally applicable to all and the need to detect and prevent the exploitation of all of our sons and daughters, including trans and LGBTQ youth, represents a compelling public interest, at least when the procedures in place are the same protective standards in place for all reasonable and legal searches.  There is nothing different about this set of circumstances and privacy concerns should give way to the compelling

interests in protecting our kids.  This is a bill worthy of support.

Senate Bill 1128 authored by Senator Anthony Portantino (referred to by some as the “Jeffrey Epstein bill”) requires that an offender who is at least 10 years older than a minor register as a Tier 1 sex offender whether the sexual act is vaginal, oral or anal.  This bill corrects a glaring imbalance in the law regarding registration as a sex offender and should be required as equal protection since today registration is required anal and oral sex, but not for intercourse, between such an adult and a minor. It’s about time.

SB 1275 authored by Senator Josh Newman builds on the existing law that makes it a misdemeanor to solicit a minor for prostitution.  Currently it is not a crime to solicit anyone 18 or older for prostitution even if the perpetrator thought they were soliciting a minor.  This bill again is aimed at prevention, providing that it is a misdemeanor to solicit for prostitution not only a minor but also “another person who is 18 years of age or older whom the individual believes to be a minor”.  The change permits law enforcement to arrest those who knowingly agree to engage in prostitution with someone they believe to be a minor even if the belief is mistaken, providing law enforcement with a badly needed tool to address predators without putting actual minors in harm’s way.

Our City deserves our support in getting the tools needed to address the sexual exploitation of our children.

Want more Black news? Join the community today! Click here for the Weekly newspaper and E-paper.