SARASOTA-- On Monday night, Sarasota City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo told his fellow Commissioners that prostitution on the North Trail seems to be getting worse.
Caragiulo said he had been talking with several people who live and work in the area, and they were concerned over the issue. Caragiulo asked that Police Chief Bernadette DiPino address the issue in the near future.
We spoke with DiPino on Tuesday who admits there is still a problem on the Trail.
"It has been going on for 30 years," DiPino said. "What I can assure the citizens is that it is not going to continue for another 30 years. I can assure them that we are going to aggressively try to reduce this, if not eliminate this problem as soon as possible."
Jay Patel, who owns the Regency Inn on North 41, says the problem isn't getting any better.
"I have definitely seen an increase in the past few weeks around here," said Patel. "If there is a concentrated effort between the city staff and police on a constant basis--- to send the message out that we are serious about this--- it's going to change."
Sean Connelly is also hoping for that change. He lives a block away from the highway.
"I'm a 40 year resident of this neighborhood. This is probably the worst I have ever seen it. It is something that has to be dealt with and should be one of our city's top priorities. We try hard to get people here. When they get here, this is what they see," said Connelly.
Why the sudden boom in prostitution? Drugs could have a lot to do with it, said DiPino. Both prescription pills and heroin are in demand, and many of the prostitutes make their money to buy the drugs.
DiPino says her department will be very proactive over the next few months. She also admits that it's her goal to find different services for the prostitutes that will hopefully help them change their lives around.