Profile of a John
Original Article Posted Nov. 8, 2010
ANCHORAGE-It's been called the oldest profession, but Anchorage police say it's not just the prostitutes who are the problem but the "johns" who keep them in business. Police say the johns can be your neighbors, friends, husbands, boyfriends and those whose job is to uphold the law.
For years now, Anchorage police have been conducting "reverse" stings-"meaning, we have a female out there posing as a prostitute," said Anchorage police Sgt. Kathy Lacey, which runs the department's vice unit, which ran about six reverse stings this year.
Each sting, which is at least six hours long, ends with several arrests.
"On an average, our high is 10, and we probably average six to seven," Lacey said. "It just depends how many hours we put into it."
Lacey's unit worked with the FBI on a sting earlier in July.
"I think we arrested seven that night," Lacey said.
Among those arrested that night was Daniel Shrader, a lieutenant with the Ted Stevens International Airport Police and Fire Department.
Anchorage police say Shrader was arrested in Spenard on July 9 at about 8 p.m. after offering an undercover detective 40 dollars for oral sex.
"When we made the arrest, somebody recognized him as being law enforcement, but that doesn't change how we process him," Lacey said.
Shrader's vehicle was towed, as city ordinance mandates when it comes to prostitution arrests.
"We don't want to give him any breaks, and we didn't want to treat him any harder than we would anybody else," Lacey said. "Once we arrest him, that goes to the prosecutor's office and we have no say as to how it's prosecuted at that point."
But the prosecutor's office offered Shrader a deal.
"He was offered pretrial diversion, he accepted the pretrial diversion," said municipal prosecutor Al Patterson.
According to the municipality, 13 charges qualify the suspects for pretrial diversions-which are basically second chances for first-time offenders.
"Every one of them that was arrested that had no prior record would have gotten offered this pretrial diversion," said Patterson, who insisted Shrader was not offered because he carried a badge. "What bothers me is we're here because he is a cop. If he wasn't a cop, we wouldn't be sitting here, having this conversation. We are, because people think he gets special treatment and that's not the case at all. We get people coming through here who are judges, all kinds of things. This guy, if it had been a plumber, an electrician, a TV cameraman, wouldn't have made any difference."
Sgt. Lacey said she and her detectives run across the same during their stings.
"We get every social strata that pick up prostitutes on the street," Lacey said. "You name it, we've had it. We've had attorneys, we've had police officers-obviously with the airport police officer, doctors, business people, business owners, construction workers, students."
The suspects, she said, are mostly men; most of them with a lot to lose.
"That's one of the first things a lot of these guys say when we arrest them-is that they're married and they don't want their wife to find out, or their girlfriend."
In Shrader's case, he could lose his job.
According to the airport's policy and procedures manual, being found guilty of a crime involving "moral turpitude" could lead to being fired.
Calls to both the airport police department and Shrader's attorney were not returned, but airport police Chief Lauri Burkmire has said that an internal investigation is under way.
Patterson says, as long as Shrader completes community service and stays clean for the next six months to a year, his charge will be dismissed.
"So he signed those documents and was told what he needed to do to complete a pretrial diversion," Patterson said. "He agreed to do that. He's done everything with the exception of we're waiting for the time to run now."
That's standard for first-time offenders.
"It truly is being prosecuted," Patterson said. "It will show up on his record as a pretrial diversion, but these are not considered the most heinous types of crimes either."
But not everyone agrees.
"We try to get the johns to look and say, 'Do you realize you're using this woman, do you know her background?' They really don't want to hear that. It's a degrading, violent business to be in. We interview every woman we arrest. The stories they tell are horrific-from forced rape to beatings, chokings, getting thrown out of moving vehicles, it's endless."
The stories fly in the face of conventional thinking that prostitutes are consenting women because, Lacey says, the average hooker starts turning tricks at a very young age.
"We've had girls right here in Anchorage that were traded for crack when they were 9 years old," Lacey said.
Police officers, she says, should know better.
"You can't pick on somebody just because they're a police officer, but obviously the citizens expect police officers to be held to a higher standard because we are out there enforcing the law," Lacey said.