John School is an effective deterrent for men soliciting sex workers on the streets, says a guy who was busted in a police blitz.
The program works, “if you’re a decent person,” said Dean, 38, who asked not to have his last name published.
The education course, for first-time offenders, explains the effects of prostitution within our communities.
“It was neat to understand the women on the street. They’re hurt girls,” he said.
Dean said he was caught by Ottawa cops 10 years ago in a Byward Market sting.
He had no criminal record, admitted he was guilty, then opted to go to John School.
His wife still doesn’t know about it.
Sixteen men were arrested in a two-day Vanier prostitution sweep by cops, netting 10 criminal and five provincial charges.
The blitz was conducted Monday and Tuesday by Ottawa police.
Twelve men qualified to attend John School.
“They’re not brought into the cellblock. They’re sort of processed at the scene, and then directed to the Salvation Army, which essentially runs John School,” said Insp. Uday Jaswal, adding they also fork over $500 for the course.
The remainder were charged with a variety of offences including communicating for the purpose of prostitution, solicitation, and mischief.
Two were also charged under the controlled drugs and substances act and driving a motor vehicle while disqualified.
Jaswal said police are conducting sweeps in response to complaints from residents.
“We’re grateful that police are taking community concerns seriously,” said Vanier Community Association president Mike Bulthuis.
“Residents are tired of the patterns of street-level prostitution.”
And prostitution isn’t across the board, Bulthuis said.
“I think it’s in a few pockets.”
Although working with police has been effective, solving the problem is a community issue.
“It’s going to take concerted efforts on an ongoing basis,” Bulthuis said. “It’s not just a police effort.”
Bulthuis said he’s lived in Vanier for more than three years and is seeing more and more families move into the neighbourhood.
“I think Vanier’s renewal is happening,” he said. “I feel completely safe at all times of day.”
The group is focusing on the efforts of its parks committee, as well as sidewalk repair and slowing down traffic.
Improving conditions in Vanier is on the agenda for police.
“There will be significant training over the next year around working with this particular community,” said Jaswal.