Starting on May 16, Houston police used strategies designed to deter pimps and johns, including street closures, improved lighting and increased police patrols in a new incentive to drive out illegal activity from a notorious strip in the city, the Houston Landing reports. Those strategies, said residents, city officials and law enforcement, have been a resounding success. “After more than three months working on this initiative, the trafficking activity we have long seen for over a decade has been significantly diminished and in some cases eliminated,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “The responses have been very, very positive.” Reece Hardy, commander of the Houston Police Department’s west side patrol division, said police have made over 140 felony arrests and 40 misdemeanor arrests along the targeted Bissonnet Street "Track" since the initiative began, mostly of buyers and pimps, but emphasized that law enforcement’s efforts extended beyond enforcement.
Merchants have said their businesses have suffered for years because of criminal activity in the area.
“David Peters, a member of the Southwest Management District’s board of directors, said local businesses have seen a marked difference in the amount of illegal activity taking place along Bissonnet, and expressed optimism that improved conditions will spur economic growth. “As the safety (of the community) improves, the economy follows,” Peters said. Previous efforts to reduce the activity along Bissonnet were unsuccessful, including in 2018, when local officials asked a judge to declare the area off-limits to over 80 suspected sex workers, pimps and johns. The current initiative has made headway through deterrence strategies like street closures, improved lighting and increased patrols along Bissonnet, nearly all used by Hardy’s police division. On Saturday morning, several dozen volunteers, city officials and police officers descended on Bissonnet to beautify the area, the latest phase of the cleanup project.