Residents of Over-the-Rhine say barricades against prostitution are doing their job

CINCINNATI -- Residents of Over-the-Rhine commended police Tuesday for barricades set up to curb prostitution, despite complaints in the past two weeks.

Cincinnati police established barricades along McMicken Avenue in hopes of cutting down on Johns cruising the area.

The barricades represent a new approach police are taking to fight prostitution. Police said traditional methods just weren't cutting it.

RELATED: Addressing prostitution in Over-the-Rhine

One group of homeowners favors the barricades and is happy police are showing some effort. The group would like to see the barricades stay put and believe police are seeing the results they've hoped for.

Cindy Kelley lives on McMicken Avenue. She is among Over-the-Rhine homeowners who sent a letter to City Hall and the chief of police for their proactive approach to combat prostitution. The barricades are really making a difference, she said.

"We just have not seen any prostitutes or very few," Kelley said. "They're not out here soliciting. I mean they were in the middle of the streets waving down cars, boldly. They didn't care if people saw them or wrote down their license plates. Nobody cared. So this is the only thing that's worked."

Tony Walsh is the president of the West McMicken Improvement Association. The group supports the city's fight against the prostitution problem that has plagued Over-the-Rhine for years.

"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."

Josh Mrvelj has lived in Over-the-Rhine since 2005. He still doubts about the barricades' value.

"I haven't made up my mind yet. It's too new to know," he said. "Is it a long term fix? Probably not. I don't know anybody who's advocating keeping the barricades forever."

Until Tuesday, many residents said the barricades were inconvenient. They were upset because they got no warning before the barricades showed up, interrupting their route to and from home.

Instead of stopping the problem, some people complained that the barricades caused prostitutes to resort to other neighborhoods within the city, including West Price Hill. A business owner there told WCPO he'd seen more prostitutes near his place on Glenway Avenue since the barricades appeared in Over-the-Rhine.

"Seven prostitutes standing within eyeshot of my business and I've never seen anything like it, and I've been in that location about 12 years now," Pete Witte said.

RELATED: West Price Hill seeing more prostitution since police barricaded OTR streets

According to police, the barricades are scheduled to come down in September.


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