Prostitutes roam South End

When Mandy Morrison, a junior writing, literature and publishing major, walked toward her South End apartment one September night dressed in jeans and a sweater, she didn't expect to be mistaken for a prostitute.

But as Morrison arrived at her Cortes Street home, she noticed a police officer approaching her.

"He just seemed like he was doing his job, going about his business," Morrison said. "Then he said, 'Ma'am, can I see your license?' I went through my purse, got my license and he said, 'Okay, Amanda, I believe you.'"

Since she was not making a disturbance, Morrison said she could not understand why the officer had stopped her.

"He said, 'You know, there are a lot of prostitutes in this area,'" she said.

According to Morrison and many other students living in the South End/Bay Village area, prostitution has become prevalent on their neighborhood streets.

Boston Police Department (BPD) Spokesman Michael McCarthy said plans are in effect to minimize prostitution in the South End/Bay Village. The BPD has made similar efforts in the Theatre District area and Allston-Brighton.

The exact number of prostitutes is difficult to pinpoint, but there have been recent prostitution arrests in the area, BPD Spokesman John Boyle said.

Carlos French, coordinator of the South End's Blackstone Franklin Crime Watch Group, said prostitution has persisted throughout the five years he has lived in the area.

"I know in the alley behind Dwight Street and down Berkeley Street [prostitution has] always been a problem," French said. "I used to find condoms on the ground and heard about 'johns' going around."

The hotbed of illegal activity, however, has not prevented students from living in the area. Off-Campus Student Services Coordinator Christy Letizia said about 35 undergraduates and 11 graduates lived in the South End/Bay Village area last year, which is about 3 percent of the total amount of students who lived off campus last year.

Not all students living in the South End have seen the problems caused by prostitution. Junior journalism major Pam Coppola, who frequently walks on Massachusetts Avenue during both the day and at night, said she has never had any issues with prostitutes or those who attempt to solicit them.

Others, like sophomore writing, literature and publishing major Andrea Rosen have had several encounters with prostitutes and their customers. Rosen, who now lives in the Bay Village area, previously lived on Cortes Street, an area where residents said prostitutes often congregate.

"We lived close to [where prostitutes were]," Rosen said. "It was a little scary. Several times I was walking on Cortes Street and someone asked if I was a prostitute."

Boyle said police have responded to complaints of prostitution in the South End for a long time.

Boyle said he could not elaborate on the BPD's current plan to crackdown on prostitution in the area, however, because it would interfere with the operation.