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Cops Brag That They Bullied a Woman Out of Town After a Neighbor Said She Sells Sex

An investigation would've taken months, so Larksville Police decided to skip that part.

Larksville Police Department/FacebookLarksville Police Department/FacebookWhy should cops bother with investigations and due process when they can rely on anonymous tips and social shaming? That seems to be the attitude in Larksville, Pennsylvania, where police are bragging to local news that they bullied a woman out of town after a neighbor suggested she might be a sex worker.

"People living on Vine Street in Larksville say they knew something was going on at a home in their neighborhood and that is probably wasn't anything good," reports local news outfit WBRE. There were too many cars pulling up to a local apartment building and too many men getting out of them—at least according to one nosy neighbor, who reported this activity to the Larksville police and then spoke to WBRE on condition of anonymity.

Traditionally, police receiving such a tip might wait to see if any other neighbors complain, conduct some surveillance of their own, or pay the building a visit to talk with its residents. Not in Larksville, though. Based on that one tip, Chief John Edwards went straight to Facebook to post a warning notice to potential criminals.

"'ALLEGED' prostitution" is taking place "in an apartment in or near the 200 block of Vine Street," he wrote on the department's Facebook page. "Our department will use all legal means to bring as much pressure to bear on the person(s) involved," he added, noting that "I and my officers will provide you with a never-ending stream of police activity." He also said the cops would talk to "all the neighbors in the area" and instruct them "use video and photography to document" the comings and goings on the street.

Then Larksville police—still without talking to anyone at the allegedly suspicious apartment or conducting due diligence of their own—went to the street in question, put physical copies of the warning on any vehicles in the area, and handed them out to people door-to-door.

"We went down there, half of my department went down there, parked four cruisers, banged on doors, and made our presence well-known," Edwards told WBRE. "It immediately stopped. It went from Grand Central Station to a ghost town."

Yes: Unsurprisingly, police announcing that they are canvassing an area may make people scared to go there. But it's hard to see how Larksville cops consider this a win, unless they believe their role is not actually stopping crime but simply driving it deeper underground or to other areas.

I'm all for police not prosecuting consensual prostitution, but I'm also for them not spending time spooking everyone about prostitution; not outing or mislabeling people as sex workers; and not storming into neighborhoods and barging onto people's property based on vague, uninvestigated tips about too many cars near an apartment building. And if a tip is sufficiently serious to warrant some action, then I'd prefer the police actually look into what's going on rather than just decide it must be about sex and announce that they're watching.

If something truly bad was going down on that street, the police have certainly ruined any chances of figuring out what it was or stopping it from happening again. And if it was just someone selling sex, and police really wanted to stop neighbors from complaining about it without resorting to arrests—which would be laudable—then they could have at least tried giving a warning directly to those involved, not announcing to the whole damn street and Facebook that an "ALLEGED Prostitute" was in their midst.

Taking this to Keystone Cops level of dumb policing, Chief Edwards said he was satisfied with his department's work because a woman had called him saying she was the one they were after and would now stop selling sex and move out of town. (Apparently, the number one rule of policing in Larksville is to never question the veracity of anything anyone who calls them says.) An investigation would've taken several months, he said. They were able to shut down an operation much more quickly his way.

Photo Credit: Larksville Police Department/Facebook

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "We went down there, half of my department went down there, parked four cruisers, banged on doors, and made our presence well-known," Edwards told WBRE. "It immediately stopped. It went from Grand Central Station to a ghost town."

    Ok then.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Taking this to Keystone Cops level of dumb policing, Cheif Edwards said he was satisfied with his department's work because a woman had called him saying she was the one they were after and would now stop selling sex and move out of town.

    This is powerful confirmation. The only thing better would be if she had tweeted it.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    unless they believe their role is not actually stopping crime but simply driving it deeper underground or to other areas.

    Yes.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    If I'm a cop trying to get my numbers up for East Larksville, why do I care if I chase the criminals out to West Larksville?

  • Hank Stamper||

    Your number of arrests will be down which means budget cuts. Well in theory in the real world when the budget gets made I am sure the FOP will release statements saying how this will endanger the children and politicians will fold.

  • ||

    (Apparently, the number one rule of policing in Larksville is to never question the veracity of anything anyone who calls them says.)

    As a corollary to rule #1 all claims made by police no matter how exaggerated and unsubstantiated, are true. A woman called the Chief, confessed to a crime in his jurisdiction and within the statute of limitations but promised, under penalty of however you punish random unnamed callers whom you previously sought to identify and shame, to go somewhere else and break the law and the Chief let her off with a sternly worded, "OK."

    You almost have to assume some local politician or politically-connected attorney was running a poker night or private email server out of the apartment and everyone just decided it would be best if the "Madam" confessed to the crime and skipped town.

  • Conchfritters||

    "People living on Vine Street in Larksville say they knew something was going on at a home in their neighborhood and that is probably wasn't anything good,"

    Sex between consenting adults isn't anything good? Who the fuck are these people?

  • IceTrey||

    Your average American.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    I belief Chief Edwards received a call. I don't believe she moved out of town.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This is my opinion.

  • Juice||

    Um, well, but they didn't arrest anyone and put them into the sausage grinder system, so for me it's a wash.

  • Average Dude||

    Sadly this is kind of Social Media policing is probably going to become more and more common, if it isn't already. Barely any need to even get up from your desks!

    Meanwhile, let's gear up the Swat team for another pot raid.

  • Bruce Hall||

    Wouldn't it be nice if due process were allowed by both the police and the media?

  • Inigo Montoya||

    I think newly hired cops probably watch Brian Dennehy playing the sheriff in "First Blood" as a training video.

  • IceTrey||

    Hey if Rambo had just complied none of that would have been necassary. /s

  • IceTrey||

    I would not be happy if I was a Larksville taxpayer and the Chief claimed it would take months to investigate one hooker.

  • Azathoth!!||

    I'm not seeing whats wrong here.

    No doors were smashed in, no dogs shot, no 'victims' named.

    Cops got a tip, put together a public notice that they were 'investigating', went around the neighborhood and delivered copies of that public notice to let people know.

    And the crime stopped.

    Where's the downside? No deaths, no arrests, a safer neighborhood, and a prostitute who is still in business.

    Sounds pretty libertarian to me.

  • Liberty Lover||

    But we don't actually know any crime was being committed. Maybe the kind lady was giving it away? It was pure intimidation.

  • Jay Dubya||

    Your understanding of libertarian is pretty fucked up when any government behavior short of physical violence or kidnapping makes the grade. A libertarian police force would have disregarded the bullshit "tip" that kicked thisnoffnin the first place, not intimidate an entire neighorhood because adults might be having consensual sex there.

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