For a time, I had the night cop beat at the L.A. Daily News. I loved it. I never knew what my evening was going to be like. One night, I watched LAPD Vice go after would-be-johns. Dozens of men pulled over for the undercover police officers on Sherman Way in the San Fernando Valley, known as a prostitution hot spot. I followed one of the police officers named “Heather” and talked to her about what it was like working the Trick Task Force for the LAPD for more than 10 years.
From my story:
The men use their eyes to tell the blond and pretty Heather what they want.
There is no polite conversation, no “Pretty Woman” banter in the exchange. Seeking sex on the boulevard is seldom about service with a smile.
“You just know,” Heather says of the would-be johns who pull over to make a deal. “You look. You see. You smell it.”
The tough, sexually charged language of prostitution comes easy to her. Years of working the streets of the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood have taught her to speak with her eyes to strangers looking for instant gratification, to always keep in motion as she walks between lampposts on busy thoroughfares.
But unlike the teens and other women who walk the streets, who sell their bodies for drug money or to avoid a pimp’s beat-down, Heather hooks on the city’s dime.
She’s a 38-year-old police officer, one of about 20 women within the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley divisions who has worked the “trick task force” for years. Here’s the full story I wrote (Daily News, 2006).