Schaumburg taking aim at prostitution with steep fines

Schaumburg police hope steep fines will deter prostitution in the village, at least in comparison to the effect the lack of monetary punishment has had in the past three years.

Police Chief Jim Lamkin is recommending a local law requiring minimum fines of $300 on a guilty finding for prostitution and $750 for solicitation of prostitution.

Since the 2014 deployment of the police department's special operations tactical unit, officers have arrested 32 people for either prostitution or solicitation.

Among those case, 20 have either been dismissed or resulted in a penalty of 24 hours of community service. The rest are pending or have warrants issued for defendants who've failed to appear in court.

Meanwhile, Schaumburg has become well known on social media sites used by prostitutes for advertising or customers providing feedback, Lamkin said. Typically there are 75 to 100 such advertisements posted each day by prostitutes operating in Schaumburg or, as it's often called, "the Woodfield area."

"We'd prefer that that's not what we're known for," Lamkin said. "We don't want to be the destination for that."

The proposed higher fine for customers is aimed at reducing demand and helping prostitutes who may be victims of human trafficking or drug addiction, Lamkin said.

As such, he's further recommending that half of the money collected from the fines go to the village's Social Services Community Assistance Fund for victim services. Those services could include transportation, temporary housing, and medical treatment referrals, he said.

A local ordinance with such hefty fines can be another tool to the new methods and techniques the police department is using to combat the problem, Lamkin said. Two months ago, Schaumburg stepped up regulations on its massage businesses based on his recommendations.

The presence of approximately 30 hotels and 23 massage businesses in the village likely contribute to it being a hub for advertising of illegal activity, Lamkin said.

His idea won the recommendation of the village's public safety committee and will be considered by the village board at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 23.

Village Trustee Frank Kozak, who chairs the public safety committee, agreed such a local law could help clean up "a dark area" for Schaumburg.

"We don't need those types of establishments in town," he said.

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