When you heard the word “vice,” what often comes to mind is an array of alluring, yet forbidden activities that are bad habits, immoral, or illegal – in other words, not in the best interests of your reputation, your family, or the community.
In the realm of law enforcement, vice usually has to do with prostitution, gambling, illicit drugs and pornography, secret activities that are a big part of the Bay Area’s underbelly.
Most of the local police departments have a vice squad, specifically with detectives that focus on capturing individuals, many of whom are respectable citizens, who engage in the illegal sex trade.
What do vice detectives do?
Since most illegal activities are not out in the open, vice detectives employ a variety of undercover tactics to track down and expose illegal acts as they take place in the community. For instance, vice will trap Johns by posing as prostitutes in bars, by creating fake ads on Internet sites, such as Craigslist, and by socializing with known criminals.
Vice detectives work tirelessly to reduce the illegal activities in their communities. To apprehend offenders, they’ll dress up attractive female cops and place them in bars and nightclubs, and they’ll set up undercover surveillance in motel and hotel rooms. In fact, surveillance plays a key role in the vice detective’s work.
Going Undercover in the East Bay
Unlike uninformed police officers, vice detectives spend the majority of their time in plain clothes. This is because it’s easier to catch people when they’re comfortable and have their guard is down. If the vice detective wore a police uniform, it would defeat the entire purpose of going undercover.
Vice officers conduct “sting operations” to make prostitution and drug-related arrests. They may pose as someone wanting to buy drugs to catch a drug dealer, or a female detective may pose as an attractive prostitute at a bar or on a shady street corner, almost anything to make an arrest.
Why Prostitution is a Public Safety Issue
A lot of people believe that prostitution should be legal, but many law enforcement and government agencies don’t see it that way. Why? Departments will hope to catch sex offenders, some of whom are wanted by the feds, or wanted or arrested for sexual assault or murder in the past.
If you ask the police, they will say that prostitution is a magnet for many different types of crime, including drugs, weapons, and human trafficking, which is a real concern in the Bay Area. Sometimes, these criminal activities put innocent bystanders in danger and police hope to reduce the number of crime victims with their vice investigations.
Were you arrested for solicitation or prostitution by an undercover vice detective? If so, contact our firm to meet with an aggressive Oakland criminal defense attorney!