Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The NYPD will no longer confiscate condoms as evidence from suspected sex workers. The changes attempt to bridge the gap between the city’s health and public safety mission.
“A policy that inhibits people from safe sex is a mistake and dangerous," said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on Monday.
Advocates are applauding the shift in the city’s policy, but many say it doesn’t go far enough — since officers may continue to seize prophylactics to build evidence in larger sex trafficking or promotion of prostitution cases.
"We trust that police officers and prosecutors can make their cases of serious offenses on something more than the flimsy evidence of a condom in your pocket," said Andrea Ritchie, coordinator with the group Streetwise and Safe.
Critics have long complained that police officers harassed suspected sex workers for carrying condoms and that having a condom could lead to an arrest. Sienna Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project, said the stated changes have too many loopholes. “This continues to send evidence that it is unsafe to carry condoms,” she said.
Baskin said she hoped the NYPD moves to comprehensively ban the use of condoms as evidence in all prostitution related cases.
New York City currently spends about one million dollars a year distributing free condoms.