Police in Sanford, Florida, will begin photographing motorists they suspect are trying to pick up prostitutes and notifying them by mail that they were spotted, WKMG-TV reported on Monday.
“If you’re loitering in the city at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning or 3 o’clock in the morning after the bars let out and you’re in some of these neighborhoods and you’re in and out, in and out, in and out, yeah, that would kind of flag it,” Lt. Tim Santiago told WKMG. Santiago is credited as being behind the new tactic.
The “Dear John” letters, as they’re called, will include photos of the recipient’s vehicle and license plate. Officers will reportedly use special license-plate readers to capture the images.
But according to the Orlando Sentinel, some attorneys have criticized the practice, citing the potential danger if a letter is sent to the wrong person.
Police are “likely to expose themselves to civil-liberty complaints should they send these notices to innocent persons and inadvertently cause marital disruption,” attorney Richard Hornsby told the Sentinel, adding that if officers already have probable cause to suspect a motorist of attempting to solicit a sex worker, “then they have a sufficient basis to make an investigative detention for the crime of solicitation of prostitution.”
Watch WKMG’s report on Sanford officers’ new project, aired on Monday, below.