Council releases 30-day West McMicken prostitution barricade report

Neighboring communities see minimal increase

CINCINNATI -- A program designed to curb prostitution in Over-the-Rhine seems to be working with minimal negative effects to surrounding communities, according to Cincinnati councilmember Yvette Simpson.

Temporary barricades put up by police in May along West McMicken Avenue to disrupt car traffic has visibly reduced prostitution activities, Simpson said Monday.

Initially, neighboring communities feared prostitutes would move from Over-the-Rhine to their streets.  But since the program began 30 days ago, police say they’ve only seen a nominal uptick in prostitution traffic in the West End.

Officers performed undercover stings in that Cincinnati neighborhood since the OTR barricades were put up. Police say they arrested 15 people up to June 3.

Simpson said no other communities reported increased prostitution activity during the past 30 days.

“The barricades are one part of a comprehensive plan to address this issue, which was the result of months of collaboration between City Leaders, the Cincinnati police department, local agencies, and community leaders,” said Simpson. “We ask for citizens’ continued patience during this time, as we believe that what are short-term inconveniences will result in long term, sustainable solutions for human trafficking victims, the West McMicken neighborhood, and the entire community.”

Days after the barricades were put into place Tony Walsh, president of the West McMicken Improvement Association, praised the city and police effort.

"It's had a major effect on the neighborhood as far as quieting the traffic," Walsh said. "You don't hear prostitutes and pimps yelling."

Simpson said the city’s administration was preparing a report evaluating current and new practices to combat prostitution. That report is expected to be presented to full council within the next few weeks.

The current barricades are a temporary measure in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

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