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Residents want prostitutes rousted

August 27, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Videotaping prostitutes, preaching morals to them and getting state assistance in cracking down on solicitation were among solutions proposed Tuesday night by Hagerstown officials meeting with a group of concerned citizens.

Problems with prostitutes hanging out near St. Mary's School prompted about 18 residents to attend the mayor and City Council's Tuesday regular session in hopes of raising awareness of the problem.

The problem has gotten worse in recent years, said Stephen L. Hummel, who is active in the school's home-school association and acted as spokesman for the parents.

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When police clear the prostitutes out of the alley behind the school, the women return in 20 minutes, Hummel said.

When a police cruiser stays in the area to discourage the women from gathering, they only move up the street, he said.

"We really need to address the problem, not move it on," Hummel said.

City officials and residents need to let prostitutes know that "Hagerstown is not to be reckoned with," he said.

Police Chief Dale J. Jones said he would meet with the home-school association to discuss what measures could be taken.

"There isn't an easy answer to it," said Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II. The solution will have to involve the judicial system as well as elected officials and police, he said.

City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, a local defense attorney, said judges and prosecutors typically don't find prostitution a crime worth jail time.

"This is not an issue that can be solved by the police force. It's a societal issue," Metzner said.

"These are people that need help. They don't need prison," said Metzner, who said he has represented those kind of people for years.

"They're out there selling their own bodies. It's a sad, helpless and hopeless situation."

Metzner suggested the church help, but Father George Limmer said he doubted preaching religion to prostitutes would work.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure proposed school officials hang out in the alley with a video camera to discourage prostitutes from loitering in the area.

He also recommended residents hang out in the alley to discourage and help relocate the prostitutes.

Councilman William M. Breichner said city officials should take advantage of an offer from Del. John Donoghue to help at the state level with the problem.

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