Fridley Police crack down on prostitution

Six Fridley Police detectives, one hotel and two days of work yielded 24 prostitution-related arrests of mostly middle-aged men from around the Twin Cities.

On Monday and Tuesday, July 16-17, the Fridley Police Department conducted a prostitution detail at the LivInn Suites Hotel at 5201 Central Ave. Hotel management cooperated and allowed officers to use rooms at the hotel for this operation.

Fridley Lt. Mike Monsrud noted that this wasn’t what you’d call a sting – this was a “detail.” Police didn’t catch anyone in the act of the crime, but set up the opportunity for it. The men were arrested for “solicitation of prostitution.”

“There’s been a new push around the metro area to crack down on prostitution and sex trafficking, so earlier this year, we joined other departments in a group. As part of that group, we shared intelligence on prostitutes and johns, and as part of that detail, we agreed to set up enforcement of prostitutes and johns in our own cities,” Monsrud explained.

In Fridley, the department had a choice of LivInn Suites or the Budget Host hotels for this operation, but the way LivInn was set up made it more conducive for the detectives’ work, Monsrud said.

The department set up ads on some of the better known Internet sites for local escorts and waited for responses from “johns,” or men who would visit prostitutes.

“We had an undercover officer in the room as the prostitute, and we had video and audio surveillance in the room. We had officers in an adjacent room, and when the deal was made, they’d swoop in and make the arrest, then take them over to jail,” Monsrud said.

The 24 men were booked and released and will have future court dates to plead guilty or not guilty, go to trial if needed and be sentenced.

“We knew it would be fairly busy. … We didn’t know how busy, but I can’t say it surprised us,” Monsrud said of the number of arrests.

From what the department has heard, he said, it doesn’t matter if the detail is set up on a weekday or on a weekend; people will come out to patronize prostitutes anytime, every day of the week.

Of the 24 arrested, none came from out of state; most came from the seven-county metro area, with many coming from St. Paul. The one from farthest away was from Forest Lake, and none were from Fridley, Monsrud said. They were mostly middle-aged men in their 30s and 40s.

“It brings into town the less-than-desirables and we want to keep them out of the city and keep the city safe for our residents,” he said, noting that prostitution usually brings other crimes into the city, as well.

Monsrud said the department plans to do similar details in the future. Even though LivInn Suites was more conducive for the operation, he said the department would look into doing future details at Fridley’s Budget Host hotel, in a private home, at a rental property or at an apartment.

“Nowhere is it safe to do crime,” Monsrud said.

As for other crime enforcement efforts, he noted that National Night Out/Night to Unite is coming up Tuesday, Aug. 7.

“The focus is on burglary prevention. We want to remind everyone to secure their residences at all times. Please close and lock all doors and windows,” to help prevent burglaries, he advised.