State Rep. Bob Donovan
Press Release

The scourge of out of control prostitution, drugs

Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan - June 29, 2017

By - Jun 29th, 2017 09:35 am

Citizens across Milwaukee and the metro area would be shocked, embarrassed and angered if they witnessed the blatant prostitution and drug activity taking place on a daily basis at certain locations on the near south side.

For some time Alderman José Pérez and I have been working behind the scenes with Milwaukee Police, with neighbors and others to put a stop to the brazen and disgusting behavior — acts taking place for instance at and near S. 23rd St. and W. Greenfield Ave. During my 17 years as 8th District Alderman I have never seen any criminal activity flaunted so often and cavalierly as we are seeing at S. 23rd and Greenfield every day!

It saddens and sickens me that the activity has ramped up, in my view, because of the heroin epidemic. Those engaged in the prostitution related activities shoot up and then just throw their needles into the street or in the gutter, left behind for children to see and for someone else to remove (the same goes for spent condoms – disgusting!).

It is difficult for most citizens and observers to imagine what it must be like to live down the block or across the street from this daily activity. No one should have to live with blatant prostitution happening outside their windows!

Alderman Perez and I have done our due diligence and we have stood up for our constituents. We have held numerous meetings with the police, with the District Attorney’s office, with the City Attorney’s Office and with Chief Flynn (with the exception of the City Attorney’s Office, largely to no avail).

Prostitution has been a concern along portions of National, Greenfield and Lincoln avenues for years but it has never, ever, ever been as out of control as it is now. Years ago I would have placed a call to a police sergeant and problems would have been handled quickly. Today the department seems to just be going through the motions on the issue – either unable or unwilling to take decisive action.

I’m told that as a result of our urgings to do something officers have been instructed to increase arrests (in many instances logging valuable overtime in the process), but those arrested are taken in for booking, issued a municipal citation and then released within about an hour to go right back to committing the same crimes.

That approach is a joke!

The arrests, however, provide cover for Chief Flynn (“hey we are doing our job — look at all these arrests we’ve been making”) but do NOTHING to reduce the activity!

Someone needs to explain to Chief Flynn that there IS indeed a difference between activity and results and it is not acceptable in my opinion for MPD to just repeat the same failed efforts. Our citizens deserve far better, for God’s sake.

The prostitution problem is so bad that it may require a monumental effort to restore order. I would hope MPD and the District Attorney are thinking about what that effort might look like and how quickly it can be deployed because the residents have had enough.

I have certainly had enough and I am frustrated beyond words. My responsibility is to my constituents, but my power as an alderman is limited. I can urge the Chief to take action (which I have done repeatedly – please see the attached recent letter) but I cannot order him or the department to do anything.

It may require a groundswell of public anger and outrage in Milwaukee to demand action that SOMETHING be done to reduce the prostitution activity and to clamp down on the drug problem that seems to be fueling it.

This is a fight that we cannot back down from and one that we must win.

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

Mentioned in This Press Release

5 thoughts on “The scourge of out of control prostitution, drugs”

  1. MJ says:

    The public health and safety concerns that arise from prostitution cannot be addressed by policing alone.

    “Prostitution and similarly related offenses are often fueled by addiction, unemployment, mental health issues, homelessness, force, coercion and/or other factors, including childhood trauma and survival tactics,” Wurth said. “Data has further shown that arrest is not an effective method to handle prostitution and cannot be the only method employed to abate these types of activities,” Wurth said.

    Wurth added that there appears to be a decreasing number of addiction treatment services available and there are long waiting lists. Without treatment or jobs, she said, individuals arrested or released from jail would likely go back to the same areas and the same activities.

    It is a battle that can’t be won without help, Wurth added.“Many of the prostitutes and those who solicit prostitutes live and/or work within the geographical boundaries of District 2. Greenfield Avenue, the community, its citizens and stakeholders need to make Greenfield Avenue less attractive to commit prostitution and soliciting-related offenses,” she said.

    According to Tammy Rivera, executive director of Southside Organizing Committee (SOC), residents support a community-based approach to address the problem. Rivera said the SOC polled residents in the core area where prostitution occurs, near South 18th Street and West Greenfield Avenue, and 70 percent preferred diversion programs for prostitutes to incarceration. Many residents, including Kahn, said they understand that most women working the streets are not there by choice.


  2. Tony B. says:

    John beat me to it! Mr. Donovan is prostitution acceptable if you are on UWM campus? Is that just because it’s out of your district? Hmmmmmm. Seems a bit of a double standard.

  3. DemCo says:

    I rarely agree with Mr. Donovan, but as someone who lives in the middle of a prostitution hot spot on the north side, I know too well the nightmare it is. If you don’t live it you can’t fathom it, nor the fact that it seems impossible to resolve. The trifecta of money, sex, drugs and violence against women destroying one neighborhood at a time.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    He needs less all caps and exclamation points if he wants to be taken seriously. He says heroin is primarily to blame for the current situation, so shouldn’t addressing that be part of the solution? Bob seems more interested in taking pot shots at Flynn and the police department than anything else. He comes across as a guy who listens to too much Alex Jones.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us