I TEAM: Prostitution arrests put on hold more than a year

CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM has found prostitutes often don’t have to worry about getting arrested when they walk the streets and see Cleveland Police. We’ve found city officers have been told to look the other way for more than a year.

Last April, the I TEAM obtained a memo written by a Cleveland Police deputy chief. It said, in part, "All prostitution (sex for money) related vice enforcement shall cease immediately.” And, ”We are formulating a policy that will cover procedures.” But 14 months later, the chief’s office says the new policy isn’t finished yet.

That new policy still hasn’t been completed even though prostitution gets mentioned whenever there’s talk of human trafficking.

Emery Jackson lives near 54th and Lorain. He got so fed up with hookers and pimps, he started videotaping them and posting the videos on-line. His aggravation is growing with what the I TEAM has now uncovered. Jackson said, "It’s a policy they were supposed to write over a year ago. If they need help, let me know. I'll give you a hand.”

Mike Pisano runs Diversified Auto Sales. He also doesn’t like hearing about the long delay in cracking down on sex for sale. Pisano said, "We're investing a lot of money and trying to clean it up. And this is the best we can do? I won't accept it."

The I TEAM did some digging to show you the impact. In 2014, in Cleveland, there were nearly 500 prostitution arrests. Last year, just 99. Officers say sex busts in the city now often involve police task forces with outside officers.

Cleveland Police Union President Steve Loomis says officers can only wait for that new policy. Loomis said, "They're completely handcuffed. Our guys are as frustrated as they can be because they want to go out and do the police work that they were hired and trained to do."

The chief’s office did not respond to follow-up questions we e-mailed asking why it has taken so long to develop this policy.

Meantime, Emery Jackson has a message for city leaders. He said, "Please help your residents. We need your help. It's all we're asking for. Just help us."