“Name 'em and shame 'em” might well be the motto of Richmond's strategy against prostitution. The Police Department is actively publicizing the names and faces of the "johns" they arrest.
"They were ashamed," said Officer Yesenia Rogers, as she showed KTVU three mug shots from the latest sting a few weeks ago.
The trio included a drug counselor, a personal injury attorney, and a father of five from a suburb twenty minutes away.
"They're just men looking for women," shrugged Officer Rogers, noting that sex trade customers come from all walks of life but frequently have the same story when they are caught welcoming a prostitute into their car.
"They'll say 'I was just driving by, I've never done this before, this was my first time ever, this is not me,'" recounted Rogers. "But we know that's not usually true."
Along Ohio Street and a long stretch of 23rd Avenue, women loiter and try to be inconspicuous as Rogers patrols with her partner, Officer Jennifer Cortez.
One of Richmond's street surveillance cameras provides them a description: white woman, black hair, leggings, maroon jacket.
Cruising past a low-rent hotel, the officers spot her, and pull-over to talk to her, but she is immediately defiant.
"I don't got a dollar to my name, so how was I soliciting?" she demands to know.
They search her, and find condoms in her pocket.
"I don't carry condoms with me," chides Officer Rogers.
"Well, maybe you don't have to," the woman retorts.
She's handcuffed, while she's checked for outstanding warrants, but she's not the prime target for police. They know the sex workers are often desperate and addicted. They're after the pimps who exploit them, but it's difficult to convince the women to turn on them.
"They think he's their boyfriend and they're in love, but he really is pimping them out," said Rogers.
In eight years of patrol in Richmond, and encounters with hundreds of women, she's found the vast majority don't like what they're doing.
"Two of them, when I asked, told me they enjoy what they do," Rogers recalled, "the others, no. It's just easy money."
And many prostitutes admit they have children who they no longer have custody of.
"Some of them, it's sad, because you can see it's not who they really are," observed Rogers.
Questioning a suspected streetwalker on 23rd Avenue, the officers pulled vials of pills from her purse, plus a syringe and small vials of liquid.
"That's for my infected finger," she declared, claiming to be drug-free.
How to explain the meth pipe found in her purse?
"I don't have the slightest idea, I didn't put it in there," she said, as the officers listened knowingly.
She was transported to jail on outstanding warrants.
Later at the hotel, where the suspected prostitute was initially so belligerent, officers managed to calm her down and get an honest admission.
"I hate prostituting; selling myself" she said grimly, "I've been dealing with it for many, many years. Too many!"
She received a warning and was let go.
By outing customers, police hope to curb demand. They want men who come to Richmond to buy sex to be aware that their identities will show up on Facebook, Twitter, and the evening news.
Three suspects have been arrested in connection with a shooting on Friday in Richmond that left a 28-year-old man dead and injured a 71-year-old man, police said Saturday.
At about 1 a.m. on Friday police responded to a ShotSpotter activation in the 1300 block of Coalinga Avenue where a 71-year-old resident had also reported a burglary, according to Richmond police Sgt. Nicole Abetkov.
Officers arrived to find the 71-year-old resident suffering from gunshot wounds to the leg outside a building used as a home and a plumbing business, Abetkov said.
The man was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he was listed in stable condition on Friday, according to Abetkov.
A short time later, three men in a vehicle transported a gunshot victim to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, located about a mile from the site of the shooting on Coalinga Avenue.
That victim succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. He has been identified as Pierre Andre Reddrick Jr., 28, of Richmond, a Contra Costa County coroner's deputy said.
Police detained the three men in the vehicle for questioning at the hospital, Richmond police Lt. Andre Hill said.
Richmond residents Terrell Franklin, 27, and Devonte Lewis, 21, and Hercules resident Michael Pitre, 28, were arrested for homicide,
attempted homicide and burglary, Hill said. Police are continuing to investigate the shooting and talking with witnesses.
Mariners, surfers and beachgoers in the Bay Area are advised by the U.S. Coast Guard to use caution as high surf is expected to pass through Northern California Saturday and Sunday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a high-surf warning for the California coastline today from Sonoma County in the north to Monterey County in the south.
The high-surf warning also means that there is an increased risk for rip currents and sneaker waves on west and northwest facing beaches, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Mariners are advised to stay informed and abreast of changing weather conditions by monitoring storms through local radio, television and via the Internet, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Mariners should remember to always wear life jackets while on the water and have a working VHF marine radio aboard their vessel.
The U.S. Coast Guard is reminding mariners to file a float plan with friends, family members and local marinas before heading out on the water. The list should include the number of passengers aboard the vessel, the vessel's destination, a description of the vessel, and an expected time of return.
The U.S. Coast Guard is urging all mariners to ensure that their vessels have marine flares onboard and to check that bilge pumps are operational and that vessels are secure enough to endure heavy winds and rain.
Mariners are encouraged to check NOAA's website at www.wrh.noaa.gov/mtr/ for both current and predicted weather and water conditions. Additional boating safety information is available to the public at www.uscgboating.org.
A police officer has been released from the hospital after suffering injuries in a crash with a vehicle driven by armed robbery suspects in San Francisco's Richmond district Saturday, a police spokeswoman said.
Officers responded around 6:45 a.m. to a report of a robbery in the 3400 block of Balboa Street in which a suspect allegedly fired a gunshot, San Francisco police Officer Danielle Newman said.
An officer in a patrol car spotted the suspects' vehicle at the intersection of Cabrillo Street and 28th Avenue about 10 minutes later and pursued the suspects.
The chase ended a short time later when the suspect vehicle and the officer's car collided at Lincoln Way and 20th Avenue, Newman said.
Both occupants of the suspect vehicle were arrested.
The officer involved in the crash was taken to a hospital for injuries not considered life-threatening and released later Saturday, the spokeswoman said.
The passenger and the driver of the suspect vehicle were transported to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening and were both later released from the hospital and taken into custody, Newman said.
The driver of the fleeing vehicle has been identified as Kenneth Perry, 48, and the passenger has been identified as Joseph Depaoli, 37, both of San Francisco, according to Newman.
Perry was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen property, two counts of aggravated assault, felony evading and reckless driving, resisting arrest and for probation violation, Newman said.
Depaoli was arrested for being a felon in possession of ammunition and for probation violation.
The robbery and crash remains under investigation, Newman said.
The same government that won't let us have commercial drones or home DNA testing kits has made yet another brilliant regulatory decision. The U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has just approved — wait for it — powdered alcohol.
A Bevlaw blogger first spotted the application, which approves seven different varieties of powdered alcohol. The blogger writes, "I am not astonished that this is a real product — but I am absolutely astonished that this is approved. ... The person that pushed this through must be very patient or lucky." (Via Lehrman Beverage Law)
Powdered alcohol isn't a totally novel concept — in 2007, food technology students in the Netherlands came up with Booz2Go, a just-add-water powder which could turn any drink into an alcohol. (Via YouTube / Diagonal Line)
The alcohol powder that will be coming to the States includes vodka and rum powders, along with powdered cocktails like Lemon Drop, Cosmopolitan, Mojito and Margarita. They're all going to be marketed under the brand ... *deep sigh* ... "Palcohol."
In what appears to be one of its rare moments of maturity, the Internet has greeted Palcohol with skepticism. Gawker calls Palcohol "a product that, in the wrong hands, could make the darkest days of the Four Loko era look tame."
And The Braiser rants, "An alcoholic product that could easily be confused for a Crystal Lite package CLEARLY WON’T CAUSE ANY TROUBLE, RIGHT GUYS? *facepalm*"
Meanwhile, under the lede "Well, this sure is a terrible idea," Refinery29 notes most Palcohol products are advertised as containing about 55 percent to 65 percent alcohol by volume. "We can practically hear the chorus of stomach pumps now."
And if you're wondering where all this animosity toward Palcohol is coming from, just check out the company's sales pitch.
This cached version of the Palcohol website — pre-federal approval, of course — features a list of "possibilities" for the product. The list includes dodging expensive booze prices at clubs and concert, smuggling alcohol into the big game, and mixing powdered vodka into your next omelet.
And then there's this paragraph, reprinted in full. "Let's talk about the elephant in the room ... snorting Palcohol. Yes, you can snort it. And you'll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose. Good idea? No. It will mess you up. Use Palcohol responsibly." Thanks for the tip, Palcohol.
It's hard to imagine how lines like that made it past regulators. Did Palcohol's application come with free samples?
In all fairness, the company's cleaned up their act after getting federal approval, which apparently caught them off-guard. Palcohol's new toned-down site reads, "The verbiage that was copied was still in draft mode. ... Please disregard what is being printed as a result of information taken from the earlier version of this site."
Palcohol is expected to hit the shelves this fall. As with all alcohol products, use Palcohol responsibly and safely. And please don't snort and drive.