The Crime of "Vice Enforcement" (Will Grigg)
Monday April 8th, 2013
If a cop solicits the services of a prostitute, and then arrests her, shouldn't both parties to the transaction be prosecuted?
On March 22, Officer Ronald DePellegrin of Homestead, Pennsylvania allowed a prostitute to undress him and begin to perform a sexual act before he informed her that he was an undercover vice officer. DePellegrin had contacted the prostitute through an online advertisement. The two agreed to meet at a house to conduct the transaction. Before they began, DePellegrin assured her that he was not a cop. All of these details were included in DePellegrin’s official report.
The woman’s attorney points out that “the police in this particular instance are engaging in the exact type of criminal activity that they’re saying that they’re trying to protect the community from.”
The DA’s office insists that Officer DePellegrin’s conduct does not “create a constitutional issue that would bar us from moving forward with the prosecution” of the prostitute. The prosecutor has not said if charges will be filed against DePellegrin as well – which is what should happen if we insist on treating the vice called prostitution as a crime, rather than as an offense that lies outside government’s legitimate jurisdiction.