Starting this week, police in Sanford will start using cameras to record license plate information of suspected "Johns" seen driving through high prostitution areas. And they're hoping a letter sent to the registered owner of the vehicle is a deterrent.
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Police said they often do not have enough probable cause to make an arrest of a suspected "John," but some wonder if the "Dear John" letter initiative will wrongly target and embarrass innocent drivers.
Police say that won't be the case.
"We're not going to be generating letters for every vehicle that drives by slow or circles," said Sanford police representative Shannon Cordingly."Obviously, the officer has common sense to know this vehicle's actually looking for a prostitute or if they happen to be lost."
Police said only their most highly trained senior officers will be using the cameras to target suspected "Johns" prowling Sanford streets.
"If you're loitering in the city at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning or 3 o'clock in the morning after the bars let out and you're in some of these neighborhoods and you're in and out, in and out, in and out, yeah, that would kind of flag it," said Sanford police Lt. Joe Santiago, who spearheaded the initiative.
Resident Tim Adams was shown a sample copy of the letter by Local 6.
"I'd be killed by the wife, that's one thing," said Adams, who likes the idea as long as the officers using the cameras and sending the letters are trained properly. "I think it would be a good deterrent if you're receiving this. Especially if your significant other sees this letter also."
"Dear John" letters this have already been used by police departments across the country.
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