Park in the vacant lot behind the Circle K. Pick up your Ocotillo Neighborhood Association tee shirt, and start walking! Thus began the annual neighborhood walk-through of the Ocotillo neighborhood near Grant Road and Oracle Road. A group of about twenty people comprised of residents, neighborhood leaders, neighborhood business owners, and a few politicians, strolled off into the neighborhood. There were small children darting about on tricycles while the parade moved along. Some children were coming home from school. It was quiet, almost to the point of being eerie. The streets of this residential area were clean, and mostly empty except for the parade.
A few years ago, at this same time of day, the streets would be filled with people. Filled with people who did not live there, but used these neighborhood streets for prostituting themselves, soliciting sex, selling illegal drugs, and buying illegal drugs. Dirty needles littered the ground. Elementary school children would walk by people who were openly dealing illegal drugs, and women who were discussing the prices of various sex acts. Prostitutes, or their pimps, would try to recruit the children. If their mothers picked them up at the bus stop and walked them home, men in cars would pull over and proposition them – in front of the children.
How did it happen?
Tucson grew to a city in the automobile boom of the 1920’s and 30’s. With rail service, a land grant college, and a military base, it became the hub of business activity and transportation in southern Arizona. Nationwide, the number of registered automobiles nearly tripled from 1920 to 1930. The demand for better roadways increased, and the federal government responded by providing matching funds to state highway departments. In 1925, a standardized system for numbering highways (odd numbers for north-south routes, even numbers for east-west routes) was established. Automotive travel became the mode of choice for vacations and business trips. To accommodate the automobile traveler, small husband and wife owned campgrounds, cabins, and later, motels located themselves along the highways – a cluster of small buildings now called the â€œNo-Tell Motelâ€ on Oracle Road are a remnant from this period.
The cities of Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales, and Douglas were linked by two-lane blacktop State Highways. To travel from Phoenix to Tucson, a motorist would drive south on Route 80 through Florence and into Tucson, where the highway became Oracle Road. Many businesses, particularly restaurants such as the La Fuente Restaurant, and motels such as the Thunderbird Inn, the Flamingo Inn, and the Sands, were located on this main artery. An east-west strip called Miracle Mile, built in the late 1930’s, tied together a number of state highways that converged on Tucson north of the downtown area. It was lined with â€œmotor-lodgesâ€ that flourished into the early 1960’s.
Many cowboy actor stars of the silver screen visited Tucson and traveled these highways. The famous Silent Western movie star Tom Mix, who made over 300 movies between 1910 and 1935, stopped in Tucson, on his way to Phoenix in October 1940. He died in a fatal car crash on the State Highway south of Florence. Accounts of the crash vary. One claims he had been drinking in Tucson, and drove off the road at high speed into a wash that now bears his name. Another says he ran off a washed-out bridge, while yet another says he ran off the road to avoid a construction crew. A monument honoring Tom Mix exists to this day at a rest stop just north of the crash site.
Everything changed with the construction of the interstate highway system in the 1960â€™s. As with the businesses on Route 66 nationally, the restaurants and hotels on the two-mile stretch of Oracle Road through Tucson, found themselves without their primary customer base – the out of town traveler, and downtown shopper. Travelers preferred the more predictable service and accommodations of nationwide motel chains, located on the Interstates, to the small, locally owned motels. At the same time, new businesses began to locate themselves away from the downtown area. Many of the better Oracle Road businesses, restaurants in particular, were able to survive on their reputation in the local community; however, the area entered a period of decline.
The decline deepened with the massive expansion and decentralization of Tucson that began in the mid 70â€™s. Businesses, such as Jacomeâ€™s and J.C. Penney, moved from their downtown locations to business centers to the East and Northwest. Destination resorts and other tourist attractions also chose locations away from downtown and the major transportation arteries. Small time criminals, engaged in either prostitution or drug dealing, replaced travelers, shoppers, or restaurant patrons along the state highway – Oracle Road – through Tucson. By the early 80â€™s, most of the illicit retail drug and sex activity occurred on Oracle Road from Drachman to Miracle Mile, and on Miracle Mile to I-10. There was another spot on 6th Avenue between 22nd and 26th Streets. Both of these locations are on the original State Highway route. The sex and drug trades were followed by increases in burglaries and assaults. Occasionally there were shootings, usually between competing pimps and drug dealers.
Crackdowns, John Stings, and Criminal Migrations
Area merchants demanded help from Tucson Police Department (TPD). In an effort to rid the area of criminals, TPD engages in a series of â€œcrackdownsâ€ involving large numbers of undercover officers. While there were some positive effects from these efforts, there was one very destructive unintended consequence. In order to avoid the police, the criminals moved a block or two east and west of Oracle/Miracle Mile – into the residential neighborhoods. When the â€œJohnsâ€ came looking for the prostitutes on Oracle/Miracle Mile, there were none to be found. When they drove around the block, they found them a block off the main drag. When the periods of high profile enforcement were not in place, the criminal returned to Oracle Road – and continued to occupy the adjacent neighborhoods.
In the early â€˜80’s, area residents began living a nightmare. In what were unremarkable, middle-class neighborhoods, women were loitering in front of homes selling themselves, men would drive into the neighborhoods and proposition any woman walking on the sidewalk – whether that woman was a prostitute, or a mother walking her child to the school bus stop. As children neared their house on their way home from school, they would witness acts of solicitation and drug deals. If they were girls, prostitutes or their pimps would try to recruit them.
Now, not only the merchants of Oracle road were demand help from the police, but the local residents had had enough too. One resident in particular, Jane Baker of the Balboa Heights neighborhood, embarked on a course of activism that continues to this day.
The Tucson Police Department (TPD) began high profile â€œcrackdownsâ€ in the neighborhoods. These crackdowns included a new operation – the controversial â€œJohn Stingsâ€. TPD understood that the crime of prostitution, as it was practiced in the Oracle Road Corridor, would not occur without the related crime of solicitation. In fact, it was suggested that focusing solely on the prostitute as the perpetrator was at least an act of selective enforcement, if not one of class discrimination. So, in addition to undercover men arresting prostitutes, undercover women began to arrest those committing solicitation. These programs became known as â€œJohn Stingsâ€.
In a â€œJohn Stingâ€, a female undercover officer would stand on the sidewalk, or street side, in a neighborhood known for loitering prostitutes. Men who sought prostitutes would cruise the neighborhood, see the officer, assume that she was a prostitute, stop the car near her, get her attention, and commit the crime of solicitation by offering to pay her for an act of sex. At that point, the arrest was made. If the man did not commit an act of solicitation, he would drive off and no arrest was made. The officer would not attempt to entrap the man.
The â€œJohn Stingsâ€ were controversial in the same way that drug law enforcement on the end users is controversial. While drug dealers and prostitutes are seen as lowlifes outside the mainstream, their customers come from all socio-economic strata of society. Doctors, lawyers, and literally Indian Chiefs have been arrested in Tucson for vice offenses. One TPD officer recalls arresting a minister in a â€œJohn Stingâ€. While it is hard to for most people to imagine life as a prostitute or drug dealer, the partners in crime of the prostitute or drug dealer are all too familiar.
There was also a legitimate concern among some people concerning entrapment. While the undercover female officer would make no offers or suggestions, many believed that posing as a prostitute itself was a form of entrapment. Their were also some accusations that sometimes the officers did in fact lead the perpetrator to believe that she was offering sex for money.
It did not take the prostitutes long to work around the intermittent â€œcrackdownsâ€. As in other southwestern cities, enforcement was minimal between â€œcrackdowns.â€ The prostitutes and pimps would simply relocate to another city when enforcement was stepped up, or â€œfailure to appearâ€ warrants were issued for them (if the prostitute was arrested, the pimp would bail her out and put her back on the street; when she failed to appear on her court date, a warrant would be issued). Work would continue in the new city until the situation became â€œhotâ€, then they would relocate again. They would travel a circuit around the southwest that included Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, El Paso, even Denver. They would move both individually, and in groups.
After the criminal elements expanded into the neighborhoods, the police expanded the crackdowns into the neighborhoods. Some hoped that they would move back to the commercial area of Oracle Road, but they did not. They ran their circuits, and returned to reoccupy Oracle Road and the surrounding neighborhoods.
It must be remembered that the â€œJohn Stingsâ€ and other â€œcrackdownâ€ activities are law enforcement operations that involve risk. The following incident, which occurred in 1983 in Balboa Heights, is a reminder:
Jane Baker donated the use of one of her apartments for a â€œJohn Stingâ€ operation. A female undercover officer stood on the sidewalk in front of the apartments. Men in cars would pull up to her and solicit an act of prostitution. The female officer had a hidden microphone, which transmitted the conversation to three uniformed officers in the apartment. After the man in the car committed a crime of solicitation, the female officer would direct him to meet her in the apartment. Upon entering the apartment, the man would be arrested by the three uniformed officers.
Officer Bob Huff of the Tucson police Department was one of the three uniformed officers in the apartment one evening in 1983. He recalls one man in particular who approached the undercover female officer. Officer Huff remembers listening to the man invite the female officer to get in the car and â€œgo partyâ€. The officer said that they she had a room there, and did not need to leave. The man kept suggesting that the female officer â€œget in the carâ€. The officer refused to get into the car. The man never committed an act of solicitation, and eventually drove away.
Officer Huff â€œgot a real eerie feeling about the guy.â€ As an experienced member of Vice, Officer Huff sensed danger in the way he acted, and the tone of his voice. About thirty minutes later, the same man returned and spoke to the female officer – Officer Huff recognized his voice; he began paying close attention. The man in the car began making the same suggestions that he did before – â€œGet in the car. Letâ€™s go party.â€ The female officer was standing near the driverâ€™s side window during the conversation. The man in the car reached out, grabbed the officer by both hands and by the hair, and pulled her into the car through the window. Immediately, she started screaming for help. The three uniformed officers flew out the door of the apartment and sprinted to the car. The driver hit the gas in an effort to leave the scene with the officer in his car. Brandy Caduce was the first TPD officer to reach the driverâ€™s side window of the car. He reached inside in an effort to stop the car by grabbing the keys or moving the shift lever. The female officerâ€™s body blocked both the shift lever and the ignition making it impossible for Officer Caduce to stop the car. From the position in which she was pinned, the female officer did not have access to her weapon. The driver sped away with Officer Caduce hanging on, his feet dragging. After being hit by a trashcan, Officer Caduce finally fell away from the car, which then ran over his foot.
Fortunately, police units stationed along the perimeter of the area responded. One unit blocked the street ahead of the car, while other units converged on the area along with the original officers who were still running after the escaping vehicle. The man in the car was arrested, and the female officer was rescued. The man in the car was clearly not someone who was simply shopping for sex; he was tried and convicted of kidnapping and attempted rape.
Living in Ocotillo – C.J.â€™s Story
â€œOh, hi C.J., how are you doing?â€ – 911 Operator
While most people come home from work, have dinner and relax; otherâ€™s would come home, have dinner, and settle in by the telephone and prepare to make calls to 911. Such was the routine of C.J. Roberts who lived in the Ocotillo Neighborhood from 1990 to 2002.
C.J. was born in Ohio in 1954. He moved to Tucson in October of 1990 after serving thirteen years in the United States Marine Corps. He moved to Tucson in hope of finding civilian employment at Davis – Monthan Air Force Base. Unfortunately, there was a freeze on civilian hiring. C.J. did find a job delivering bottled gases, the types of which are used in the welding industry, throughout southern Arizona.
He and his wife found a home in a trailer park on West Plata in the Ocotillo Neighborhood. At the time, the park was owned by an absentee landlord who lived in Colorado; and it was run by managers whom C.J. described as â€œof less than stellar reputeâ€. â€œWhen we moved in there, it was already overrun by prostitutes and drug dealers. Every couple of weeks, after 1:00 in the morning when the Aragon Nightclub closed, you could hear gunshots as people drove down the road all drunk and going home,â€ C.J. said.
The Robertsâ€™ lived in trailer number four – not far from trailer number one, out of which a prostitute would â€œrun girls.â€ To avoid being obvious, the girls would ask the â€œJohnsâ€ to drop them off away from trailer number one – usually at the doorstep of trailer number four, the Robertsâ€™ home. C.J.â€™s wife was not pleased. Across the street was another trailer park that was owned by an octogenarian man named Pool. Mr. Pool lived in the park, and ran a much nicer facility. A woman named Bessie Chesterton, who lived in Mr. Poolâ€™s park, befriended C.J.â€™s wife, and helped her report the illegal activity to the police. Eventually, arrests were made, and the prostitution operation was shut down. This made the Robertsâ€™ unpopular with their neighbors, whom C. J. described as â€œundesirable typesâ€. Mrs. Chesterton found a place for C.J. and his wife in Mr. Poolâ€™s park; so, after one year, they moved across the street. They lived there, in Mr. Pollâ€™s park, from 1991 to 2002.
When C.J. is not driving across southern Arizona, or calling 911, he relaxes by pursuing his hobby of Cowboy Action Shooting. Cowboy Action Shooting, or CAS, is part shooting sport, and part theater. Participants dress in the garb of the cowboy era, and compete in staged â€œshoot-outsâ€ using period style pistols, rifles, and shotguns. C.J. has five pistols that he uses in Cowboy Action Shooting events, including two .45’s and a .357. He made his own Huckleberry holster for his Cimarron Lightning revolver – he makes all of his holsters, and gun belts, and he enjoys dressing the part. If he stops at a convenience store on his way to or from an event, he is often asked, â€œHey! Do you work at Old Tucson?â€ To which he would answer, â€œNope, why do you ask?â€ (C.J. carries a customized Norinco 1911 pistol when not going to or from a match.)
While C.J. was generally supportive of neighborhood crime fighting efforts, he did not become deeply involved – really angry about it – until he was awakened at 3:00 A.M. by a woman screaming, â€œHeâ€™s gonna kill me! Heâ€™s gonna kill me!â€ C.J. grabbed his gun and ran outside. There he saw a woman running down the alley being chased by a man in a mini-van. C.J. called 911, and the police responded. Apparently, the woman was a prostitute who â€œripped offâ€ the man in the van who was chasing her. C.J. never made it back to bed, and began his workday, that included over 300 miles of driving, with four hours of sleep. He was not happy.
From then on, C.J. would come home from work, observe the neighborhood, and report any and all criminal activity. Most of the calls involved reporting working prostitutes. After a while, the 911 operators would recognize his voice and say, â€œOh, hi C.J., how are you doing?â€
C.J. recommends against confronting criminals. â€œSome people say, â€˜Iâ€™m going to chase those people away,â€™ well, that doesnâ€™t help. Most of them around here are a bunch of burnouts, theyâ€™re probably not going to confront you physically, but as soon as youâ€™re gone, theyâ€™re going to come back. If they get arrested, theyâ€™re not coming back.â€
â€œThe key is perseverance and teamwork. The more people you have calling, the more youâ€™re going to get done,â€ C.J. says.
Who Are Those Guys?
â€œAlso be aware of the police, as they can be serious pricks here… That’s the best advice you are gonna get. There is action here in Tucson.â€ – from a post at worldsexguide.org
The following is a post from the Discussion Board at worldsexguide.org. This site is a clearinghouse of information on prostitution worldwide. The post describes where to go for â€œactionâ€ in Tucson, and reveals something of the nature of â€œJohnsâ€:
â€œSubject: [ASP] Life in Tucson AZ
To all those of you interested in finding “girls” in Tucson, I am your
savior!!(j/k) Seriously, I know where to find them. Most of them can be
found where there are a string of cheap motels in the city. Whether you
are walking or driving along various streches of Miracle Mile, Oracle Rd,
and South 6th Ave, chances are you will find girls at night. They range
from NASTY (you wouldn’t want to stick a dildo in them) to fine as hell.
If you are in a car, cruising the areas where girls are is pretty easy.
Use Miracle Mile by I-10 as a starting point. Go east on Miracle Mile
till you pass the topless club (T.D.’s West). Then look to your right,
cuz all the chicks will be by the motels there. The Monterey is a big
hot spot there. Some may stand outside the Tropicana Hotel, the 24-hr
adult place over there. If you go to the Tropicana, don’t ask a stupid
question like “Where are the hookers at?” Ask the clerk(s) to point you
in the direction of “a good time” and tip them, they may point you in the
right direction. The clerks know where the hookers are, as well as which
ones are really guys dressed as women, so if you are rude to the
clerk(s), you won’t get any pussy. Miracle Mile ends on Oracle, so go
southbound and cross Grant. You will find girls in the vicinity along
most of the motels south of Grant, to the traffic circle at Drachman St
(where Oracle ends). Go on Drachman to Stone, then go downtown. After
you pass the police station, look around. After you pass the traffic
light, you will be on South 6th Ave. You will find most of the girls
between 22nd St and the freeway (I-10). The whole stretch of road used
to be Business Loop 10 and US 89, covering the area between exits 255
(Miracle Mile) and 261 (South 6th Ave) on I-10. If you don’t see girls
on the main roads, then drive on the side streets in the area. Be aware
that half the girls live in motels, and “make money” to pay for a roof
over their head, and the other half have pimps to make sure you don’t
screw them the wrong way. Also be aware of the police, as they can be
serious pricks here. If you need directions, the best thing to do is go
over to or call the Tropicana and ask them for directions to downtown or
something, or check old maps of Tucson, and you will see the old Business
Loop 10 route, cuz virtually all the girls in Tucson hang out along that
route. Better yet, ask the clerks if they know the old Business 10 or US
89 routes through the area. That’s the best advice you are gonna get.
There is action here in Tucson.â€
â€œSomethingâ€™s different. The hollowness inside is growing as if all of my bones, muscles, tissue, and organs have been removed and what remains is a shell with no past, no future, only grief.â€ – from a prostituteâ€™s diary
The â€œaction,â€ of course, involves women. While these women share some common problems – drug addiction for example; they, like the their customers, cross socio-economic
and ethnic lines. TPD officer Bob Huff recalls speaking with a woman who he observed loitering on a street corner. He was experienced enough to determine, after some observation, that she was a prostitute. In the course of the conversation, she divulged that she worked as a prison guard at the South Wilmot facility – she was, technically, a law enforcement officer!
While the basic transaction remains the same, appearances and organization changes over time. Jane Baker describes the prostitute of the early eighties as easy to spot – she carried no purse, and always has a â€œBig Gulpâ€ in her hand. Now, according to Jane, she no longer carries â€œBig Gulpsâ€, but does sport a purse. A couple of decades ago, prostitutes would have pimps, and also dealers; today it is common for the pimp and dealer to be the same person. Many are working independently – without pimps.
Most law enforcement officers, and Oracle Corridor residents, are able to look up and down the street and identify prostitutes, pimps, and drug dealers – though occasionally mistakes are made. Steve and Dianne Pratt live near Bradley Upholstery. Mr. Pratt practices his own form of â€œzero toleranceâ€ regarding prostitution. One day, Steve saw a prostitute on the corner of 11th Ave. and Ventura. He joined the woman and began telling all the potential â€œJohnsâ€ that stopped to â€œGet the hell out of here, I got your plate number fella!â€ Someone called the police and reported that Steve was threatening the woman with a gun. Steve was wearing a gun, but was not threatening the woman with it; he was scaring off the potential â€œJohnsâ€ by recording their license plate numbers. The police came and diffused the situation. They spoke with both Steve and his accuser. Someone with car picked up the prostitute. Ironically, the potential â€œJohnsâ€ were actually undercover police officers who were trying to affect an arrest!
While the prostituteâ€™s life is occasionally romanticized, for most, it is a self-destructive endeavor. The following excerpts are from a prostituteâ€™s diary. She is clearly both intelligent, educated, and desirous of the same things that most people desire – a decent place to live, a job, etc.; but her actions take her further and further away until hope is lost, and pain is overwhelming:
Note: To â€œget wellâ€ means to take drugs; â€œcucoâ€ was her drug dealer.
â€œOwe front desk $7.00. Waited till 1:00 P.M. for cuco; freaking out. Finally came said his pagr was broken. Got well, slept. Brian came over again to wake me up. Asked if I could cash a check a check for him and he would give me 100 bucks. Sure thing. Cashed check, met E, came back here and partied, called cuco. Never called Chris, will do tomorrow, also need to call Bonnie! Chilled after B left.â€
â€œMust call Bonnie & Eric also Chris about job & apt $. Need 26 + 5 = 31 for him by 11:00 A.M. (Maybe later?). Need 25 for cuco by 8:30 P.M. Where oh where can I get 30 dollars by 11:30? Help? Help? I leave it to you as it seems to be working well, rather than stress, I just know something will provide me with what I need or w/$ to get what I need. Please! I just want my stuff and move it into an apt. and a decent paying job!â€
â€œI really hope that today is better than yesterday! Things went from great to shitty literally overnight. I have to find out whatâ€™s going on with Chris! I need him to tell me if heâ€™s decided against helping me out. Broke again. Brian came over, several times throughout the day and night. At 8:00 still had no cash. Had to go out onto M.M. (Bill picked me up) friend of one of Brianâ€™s friends. Paid 25 still owes me 35 & clothes (Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll never see him again). Oh well, I need the cash. Paid rent, called cuco.â€
â€œSlept till noon, called cuco and fell back to sleep after he left. Woke up @ 6:00 and went out. Promptly got arrested! Let out on pre-trial using Bonnie as a reference. Must call her tomorrow. Got back to hotel at 9:15 w/no money! Theyâ€™ve given me until 11:00 to pay the rent or Iâ€™m out! Joe called at 10:00 came over only had 20 bucks! He owes me big.â€
â€œWoke up w/ no $ sick as shit called Brian but once again he never showed up like he was supposed to. Called Shantel, went over to see her. She got cuco to front her so I got well. She came over here for a while and we finally talked about what was going on. Sheâ€™s trying to find us a place to live (a house) and was planning on moving everything in and â€œsurprisingâ€ me…hmmm I wonder seems to me she was just gonna snag my stuff and bail I sure hope not! Sheâ€™s got Bob wrapped around her finger I hope…â€
â€œOnce again woke up broke (I could just photocopie these journal entries every day is the same bullshit mess!) David slept over and lent me 26.00 for rent, but I chose to call cuco w/ it instead (20.00 cuco). Front desk gave me till 6:00PM to pay Thursdayâ€™s rent (last night). No calls all day (again) 5:00 panic, no cash 1 hour to get it. Call Shantel no answer, called Bob, said he was too busy to stop by but 10 min later said he would give Shantel cash for me (whatever?). Wonder what she said to him to…â€
â€œWalked back, saw a million cops and was nervous as hell since I was carrying. Thought for sure they would stop me. I was virtually the only one on the street. Shan also gave me (some) of (the drugs) she had gotten from cuco earlier. Says sheâ€™s being careful not to get hooked again.â€
â€œBetter get some calls today! So sick of having to go out onto M.M., and scared as hell. Bob is suppose to give Shantel the $ for our stuff today. I think weâ€™ll tell him itâ€™s today or we lose it. The managers at Dream House saw David leaving late @ night and gave me until 10 AM to get out. Shit! I lose all my customers and have no way to get a hold of them. I guess Iâ€™ll go to the tiki where Shantel is. Saw Captain, gave me 180.00. Yeah!â€
â€œSomethingâ€™s different. The hollowness inside is growing as if all of my bones, muscles, tissue, and organs have been removed and what remains is a shell with no past, no future, only grief. The pain has turned to anger, turned to grief, to despair, to the current sensation (or lack thereof) What I can only describe as numbness. Itâ€™s a sick like you donâ€™t want to go to class because you didnâ€™t do your assignment, or like the feeling you get before having to give a speech in front of a lot of people. Itâ€™s a nauseous, acidy, feverish, anxious, sweaty, sick. There is no cure, and suffering from this â€œsicknessâ€ so long…â€
â€œ…in my concious day to day life. They are just a constant, underlying, nagging, monkey that consumes my unconscious affecting everything I do and want and am. When I stop to figure it out and try to relieve the pain the feelings just get stronger and my thoughts race to the point of madness. I cannot trust anyone, I cannot love anyone, those who loved me are gone, I either gave them away or theyâ€™re dead, the ones I gave away are most powerful because I wasnâ€™t strong enough to do what was needed to keep them in my life. I guess part of it was not believing I could give all that would have been necessary to fulfill and love and nurture them.â€
Who is Jane Baker?
â€œBecause Iâ€™m Italian and I live here and no one is going to run me out of here!â€ – Jane Baker
Jane Baker lives in the Balboa Heights neighborhood. She has lived there for 37 years, and has fought crime there for seventeen. She and her husband own the property on which they live. It is there that they raised their three children. Jane was raised in a small, rural town in Pennsylvania. Her mother and grandmother were schoolteachers in that town. It was there that she first developed a sense of community, a sense of place. Now that sense of place is rooted in an old section of Tucson near Oracle Road.
Next to the street is a large drive area with carports and a couple of rental units off to the side. A walkway leads past the apartments to a chain link fence with a gate. No need for a bell, the dogs see you coming and rush over to the gate and bark incessantly. Finally, Jane comes and determines whether you are friend or foe.
With the dogs put in the other yard, one sees beyond the gate to the patio complete with potted plants and wind chimes. An above ground pool is barely visible behind a fence to the left.
The inside of the house is warm and comfortable. The walls are paneled, and the carpeting is wall to wall. Shelves and nooks are filled with decorative mementoes and pictures. Jane collects frogs, as evident from the pictures and figurines. Past the bar, a door opens to her office. The office is all business. No room for decorations; the walls are filled with seventeen years worth of awards – including a Jefferson Award which she received in 1994. There is, of course, a desk with a computer. To the left of the desk is a window. Any wall space not covered by framed award documents contains and shelf after shelf of everything from scrap books, to City of Tucson procedure manuals, to volumes of statute law.
In the early 80’s, Police attention to Oracle Road pushed the crime off of the main thoroughfare and into the neighborhoods. Criminals overran the neighborhoods. Drug dealers who set up houses in the neighborhoods followed the prostitutes and their pimps. Increases in burglaries and robberies came next. â€œWe asked for help, but did not get it,â€ Jane said; in fact, she blames the City of Tucson for exacerbating the problem by approving zoning changes that allowed large apartment complexes to be built in the neighborhood. As the quality of life declined, many homeowners left the neighborhood and rented their houses, adding to a more transient population.
â€œYou couldnâ€™t walk down the street, because the Johns would stop and proposition you; or you might get assaulted by one of the pimps; or whatever,â€ Jane recalls. â€œYou can ask my husband. He would stop and get the mail, and all these prostitutes would be around him at the mailbox. We would come home in the car and you couldnâ€™t get in the driveway, they were lined up in front of the drive, and they were so brazen. I would toot the horn â€“ I wanted to make them into hood ornaments so bad â€“ and they would flash me. They had nothing on under their skirts â€“ and the kids were subject to this, not just the adults, the poor kids were subject to all this.â€
Home owners needed only to peer out the windows of their homes to witness prostitutes attacking each other, pimps attacking each other, pimps attacking prostitutes, and more. There were shootings and overdoses. Needles littered the streets. This was all occurring in what was a clean, middle income, residential neighborhood.
â€œMy youngest son came home from school one day,â€ said Jane. Her son attended the Nash Elementary School. â€œHe was just a little guy, and he came to me and he said, very innocently, â€˜Mom, whatâ€™s a blowjob?â€™ I went ballistic! I asked him where he heard that, and he said, â€˜I heard a lady down at the corner tell a man that she would do that for twenty dollars.â€™â€ Jane thought, â€œThatâ€™s it!â€ She and a few neighbors tried to get help from the City to no avail; now she would â€œstand up, scream, shout, and carry onâ€ to save her neighborhood.
When asked the obvious question: â€œIf you donâ€™t like the neighborhood, why donâ€™t you just move?â€ Janeâ€™s expression became indignant. She replied, â€œBecause Iâ€™m Italian and I live here and no one is going to run me out of here!â€ She added, â€œI was not about to turn tail and run.â€ War had been declared.
Threats to Janeâ€™s life were serious enough that, for a time, an undercover TPD officer would escort her to work and home again. An unknown criminal blew apart her trashcan with a shotgun as a way of sending a message. Though often afraid, Janeâ€™s fear never stopped her work. â€œI took it personally, all the stuff that was going on in the neighborhood. One morning, Iâ€™m in my nightgown, and I heard these gunshots, and I ran out, and hereâ€™s this drive-by, they shot into the apartments next to me, and I start chasing the car down the street trying to get their license plate number! I just react. I donâ€™t stop and think that I can be harmed, or that somebody can shoot me â€“ itâ€™s not something I think about.â€ Jane is a Pioneer of the New West. She did the groundbreaking work that has transformed her neighborhood, and is transforming others.
In describing the property on which she and her husband live, Jane says, â€œI think this used to be a dump.â€ Jane says this not with disgust, but with the giddy enthusiasm of an archeologist. â€œEvery time you dig, every time you turn around, stuff just comes out of the ground!â€ Jane says. She has found old medicine bottles, liquor bottles, soda bottles, and childrenâ€™s toys.
Jane remembers the history of this vicinity of Oracle Road. She recalls some long-standing businesses: Rexall Drug; Marilyn Hotel; La Fuente Restaurant; Hopeâ€™s Beauty Salon. â€œI used to go to Hopeâ€™s Beauty Salon. The barbershop is still there, and my husband still goes there after thirty five years, and my son goes there,â€ Jane says, â€œThat to me is what means so much; a sense of community.â€
Who is Nick Bradley?
â€œI thought about it, and, when I went in the Navy, I took an oath to defend my country from within and without, and that applies to this neighborhood. I donâ€™t want to be a martyr, or anything like that, but if it comes to that, somebody has to stand up. Somebody has to take a stand for the neighborhood; and nobody else was going to do it.â€ – Nick Bradley
On a corner, in the Ocotillo neighborhood, is an unpretentious single story white building which houses Bradley Upholstery. It is here that Nick and Elaine Bradley spend most of their waking hours. There is a small parking lot in the back, next to the back door, into which most people enter the business. Inside is a long workshop that extends from one end of the building to the other. The shop area is filled with materials, tools, and jobs at all stages of completion. Nick will be found near the south end, not far from the front door. Elaine works closer to the north end where she greets the customers. In addition to customers, passers-by who live in the area stop in to visit. Everyone is offered hard candy from a bag that Nick keeps close at hand. Propped against the wall is a poster-size copy of a check that the neighborhood was awarded to fund the installation of streetlights. Nick chats about the neighborhood in a low-key, matter-of-fact manner while operating a staple gun and adhesive sprayer.
Nick moved his business here in 1994. He said that the situation did not get really bad for another couple of years. â€œWe had prostitutes out here, and people selling drugs. We didnâ€™t like it, but we didnâ€™t bother them and they didnâ€™t bother us.â€ By 1996, it became very bad. There would be dozens of criminals loitering in the streets. Nick would have to run people off the front porch of his business when he came to work in the morning. One day, he saw a customer, who had come to pick up her job, park across the street. She never got out of her car. Nick went out to see if she was O.K. She was fine, but all the people in the street frightened her so, that she was afraid to leave her vehicle. It was at this point that Nick had had enough.
He was not alone. Others in the neighborhood joined Nick and formed the Ocotillo Neighborhood Association. Patricia Pritchard was the Ocotillo Neighborhood Associationâ€™s first president. Patricia would not hesitate to report crime; in fact, she reported a man to the police who beat a dog to death with a hammer. He tried to attack her in the Courtroom after she gave her testimony, promising to kill her and her son. Not long after that threat was made, Patricia left Tucson. There was some discussion as to who should replace Patricia as president of the Ocotillo Neighborhood Association. According to Nick, most of the candidates were considered to valuable to be put at risk of murder; then something was said to the affect of, â€œHey! How about that guy that does upholstery?â€ Nick became the second president of the Ocotillo Neighborhood Association.
It was that same year that Frank Davis of the La Fuente Restaurant hosted a meeting of area businesses and neighborhoods with City of Tucson Officials and agency representatives. One of the commitments made by the City, was to execute at least six â€œJohn Stingsâ€ that year. Scheduling them was a problem because the Tucson Police Department had only two undercover â€œwiresâ€ (remote audio devises); and the availability wait time was six months. The businesses and neighbors collected $2,000.00 for the purchase of a â€œwireâ€ for the police to use exclusively in the Oracle Road area. As Nick put it, â€œWe wanted to do anything possible to help anyone who was willing to try and help us; and the main player was the Tucson Police Department.â€
In 1997, Doug Smith was the Chief of Police. He met Nick at an event with a number of elected officials. He asked Nick, â€œWhat can I do for you personally?â€ Nick asked him to â€œtake your uniform off, and take a ride around this neighborhood and see what it looks like with your own eyes.â€ Two days later, Chief Smith rode through the neighborhood with an undercover officer. It was shortly after that ride that an additional three officers were assigned to the area.
Tucson Police Department documented nine death threats against Nick. â€œThey were cheesy threats,â€ according to Nick. People would walk by the shop and say, â€œYou got fire insurance?â€ One man strolled by with his prostitute and said to Nick, â€œIâ€™m gonna stick a knife in you,â€ to which Nick responded, â€œGo ahead.â€ One prostitute told him to â€œThink about me every time you get in your vanâ€ Nick said that, for a while, a squad car would be parked outside his business for a two week period. The officers said that they were â€œdoing paper workâ€, but Nick found out later that they were watching him because they had information that a criminal was planning an act of revenge against him after the criminal gained release from the Pima County Jail.
â€œI had to talk to my wife about this,â€ Nick confessed. â€œThere were a lot of people who said, â€˜If you do this, they will kill you,â€™â€ he said. â€œI thought about it, and, when I went in the Navy, I took an oath to defend my country from within and without, and that applies to this neighborhood. I donâ€™t want to be a martyr, or anything like that, but if it comes to that, somebody has to stand up. Somebody has to take a stand for the neighborhood; and nobody else was going to do it.â€ Nick carries a CZ clone in .40 S&W for defense.
Nick insists that he is not a leader. He is focused solely on crime; he does not care about other issues. He calls Jane Baker almost daily for advice – Jane did the groundbreaking work in neighborhood crime fighting. Nick believes that one reason he is successful was his approach, his matter-of-fact style. â€œI know about the law; and I know how the law works,â€ he said. Some people would get to emotionally involved, and go before the City Council and â€œbitchâ€. He would go to the Council and present facts. He was also a credible witness in court. He would pick his fights. â€œA lot of people in the neighborhood liked to express how they feel about things; well, Iâ€™m not into feelings. Itâ€™s what I can accomplish, and what I canâ€™t accomplish.â€
One day at work, at about 7:30 A.M., Nick noticed a young woman on the street flagging down cars. There was a man on a bicycle with her. Nick recognized this pattern of behavior as that of a prostitute and her pimp; so, he stepped out the back door of his business, with his video camera, and began recording their activities. The couple became distressed at Nicks use of his video camera, and suggested that he was committing an illegal act. Nick responded, â€œLetâ€™s call a cop and find out,â€ then he added, â€œNever mind, I already did.â€ Actually, Nick was in the process of dialing 911, and while he was looking down at the telephone, the man stepped up to him, struck him in the side of the head, and attempted to make off with Nickâ€™s camera. He took about two steps before Nick was on him. They â€œRolled around the ground for a bit, til I got my camera back,â€ Nick said. The man, twenty years Nickâ€™s junior, escaped on his bicycle. The police never apprehended him, but he did not reappear in the neighborhood either.
Nick takes his crime fighting seriously, and has definite ideas as to the best approach. â€œThis is hardcore, bust your ass, getting the neighborhood cleaned up with cops involved, and prosecutors, and judges. Down an dirty fighting with everybody around. You want the biggest, meanest cops you can muster up; you do not want somebody thatâ€™s going to come and slap them on the back of their hand, you donâ€™t want judges that are going to slap the back of their hand, you want to be in that courtroom and you want to look the judges in the eye when they sentence these people, and when they give them a harsh sentence, you want to stand up and applaud the judge – let them know.â€
Beyond Crackdowns – The Three Pâ€™s Project
â€œA typical prostitute’s drug habit costs an average of two to three hundred dollars a day. To support this habit, a prostitute must turn ten to twenty â€˜tricksâ€™ a day.â€ – from an internal TPD report on the Pimps, Prostitutes, and Pushers Project
By 1998, prostitution and its related crimes were entrenched on Oracle Road / Miracle Mile and the adjacent neighborhoods. Leaders of Neighborhood Associations were fighting back, as were the merchants. Working relationships had been established between these groups and the Tucson Police Department (TPD); yet, there was no long term reduction of criminal activity. The sporadic â€œcrackdownsâ€ in the area produced good results; but when they ended, the same level of criminal activity resumed. It was clear that a comprehensive plan was needed for long term results.
The Community Response Team of the West Side Patrol Division (Team II) began a project that would eventually be designated â€œPimps, Prostitutes, and Pushers,â€ the â€œThree Pâ€™s.â€ It was developed primarily by Sergeant Mike Allen under the supervision of Captain Kathleen Robinson, commander of the Team II Substation. Sergeant Allen adopted the Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment (SARA) model to build the project.
In â€œScanningâ€ the situation, Sgt. Allen observed that area residents and merchant had suffered significant reduction in quality of life as a direct result of the presence of criminals and their activities. The residents and merchants were organized, and determined to resist the criminal activity. They were also enthusiastic about working with law enforcement.
The â€œAnalysisâ€ included intelligence-gathering efforts that revealed that most of the prostitutes were drug addicts. They worked to support their habit, which often cost as much as $200.00 to $300.00 a day, which translates to about twenty â€œtricksâ€ (transactions) per day. Their drug suppliers were never far away, and in some cases would double as pimps. Drug dealers locating themselves in the area led to other addicts and users entering the area to make their buys. This influx led to increases in the associated crimes of burglary, robbery, and assault.
To gain a better understanding of the varying levels of prostitution activity, TPD reviewed its own records, surveyed the area merchants and residents, and performed a head count of suspected prostitutes and Johns over a 24-hour period. Not surprisingly, activity levels were very low during periods of temperature extremes. Peak demand periods occurred in the early morning and late afternoon when potential customers were traveling to and from work. Another peak occurred from midnight to 2:00 when bars were closing.
A routine existed that worked for the prostitutes. If a prostitute were arrested, she would often be released within hours, through Pre-Trial Services, to return to her spot on the street. If she was not immediately released, her pimp would post bail, and she would return to her spot. When the prostitute did not appear at the hearing, a Failure to Appear Warrant for her arrest would be issued. At this point, the prostitute and her pimp would skip to another city and repeat the process, eventually returning to Tucson when the heat died down. Increasing the number of arrests, did not disrupt this routine.
Ongoing pressure on government officials did shake things up. The Corrections people agreed to process accused prostitutes at the Pima County Jail and incarcerate them – as opposed to the existing procedure of processing and release by the Pre-Trial Services Unit – and began to have them held as space permitted. This would create a problem for the prostitution team. The prostitute would not have access to her pimp/dealer for a prolonged period of time; and, since the prostitute was off the street and not working, the pimp/dealer experienced an immediate cash flow problem. Jane Baker single-handedly saw to the institution of the â€œZone Restrictionsâ€ which required the prostitute to stay a minimum of 1000 feet from the point of her arrest after her release. This disrupted business for the prostitution team because the prostitute would loose repeat business and incur the expense of establishing a new site. If she returned to the original site, she was subject to arrest again – just by her presence. Prostitutes would often violate these restrictions to make drug buys form their regular dealers..
The â€œResponseâ€ began when the Oracle Road Merchants Association joined forces with the Ocotillo and Balboa Heights Neighborhood associations to coordinate efforts with the Tucson Police Department. The police instituted a â€œZero Toleranceâ€ approach to prostitution and drug dealing in the area. The merchants and residents provided information to law enforcement in addition to reporting crime.
They also appealed to other agencies of government, such as judges, prosecutors, and city administrators, to support their efforts. For example, a coordinated effort between TPD, the City Prosecutorâ€™s office, and the City of Tucson Development Services Department, began civil abatement proceedings against the Tropicana Adult Bookstore, the Monterrey Hotel, the Aragon Nightclub, and a private residence.
The importance of this broad approach cannot be overstated. Prior to Jane Baker and othersâ€™ unrelenting appeals, prostitution was not perceived as a serious crime. May prosecutors, judges, and others in the local governments viewed it as a victimless crime, not worthy of serious enforcement. Jane Bakerâ€™s experiences – being propositioned on the street by her home, hearing her daughter tell of recruitment attempts by prostitutes, hearing gunshots fired into a neighboring building while making breakfast for her family, prostitutes exposing themselves to her and her husband in front of her minor children, left her with a markedly different opinion. As Jane said, â€œMany mindsets had to be changed.â€
Narcotics officers were enlisted to work on the illegal drug dealing. They identified 41 addresses and other locations as suspected sites of illegal drug dealing. The drugs involved were usually crack cocaine, marijuana, or meth amphetamine. Up to six officers from the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Trafficking Interdiction Squad (MANTIS) were assigned to the operation to address narcotics problems associated with prostitution. An additional ten officers from other patrol units were added creating a total of sixteen officers assigned to the area. TDP knew from experience that this intense â€œZero Toleranceâ€ effort would displace many criminals who would attempt to relocate operations in other parts of the city, so contingency plans were made to deny the relocation of these criminal operations in town. The idea was to leave the illegal drug dealers and prostitutes with two options: 1, abandon the criminal lifestyle; 2, leave Tucson.
The 3-Pâ€™s operation was successful in suppressing crime in the Oracle Corridor. The success was a result of a high level of professionalism, and flexibility on the part of the Tucson Police Department. TPD used its past experience, and its first hand understanding of the situation, to creatively combine and deploy resources to achieve the goal.
The innovation continues with experimental techniques. TPD is experimenting with a sort of â€œcatch and releaseâ€ program regarding â€œJohnsâ€. When a â€œJohnâ€ is apprehended, he will be educated as to the facts, particularly risks, involved in solicitation; then he will be released at the scene without an arrest. As Detective Lynette Moody pointed out, â€œMany Johns have wives and children. Often, after an arrest, someone would be called to pick up the car – that person would often be the wife who had no idea what was going on.â€
â€œCall out the instigator,â€ â€“ opening line from â€œSomething in the Airâ€ by Thunderclap Newman
All regions â€“ urban, suburban, and rural â€“ experience ebbs and flows of populations, prosperity, culture, and crime. Clearly, the shifting of through-transportation arteries had a dramatic affect on the Oracle Corridor in Tucson â€“ probably the largest single factor. Do unpredictable consequences, resulting from seemingly unrelated events, necessarily determine the fate of neighborhoods? The answer is â€œNoâ€, and the proof lies in the success of the Balboa Heights and Ocotillo neighborhoods.
What made these neighborhoods different from others that floated with the tides? Clearly, many people and agencies united to achieve the results that exist today; but it all starts with – The Instigator.
Jane Baker became the original Instigator in the 1980â€™s when she first â€œâ€¦went ballistic.â€ Jane demanded action from the City â€“ from all if its agencies. She was assertive, stubborn, understanding, co-operative, and realistic. She also gave of herself to an equal, or greater degree, than that which she demanded from others. She had her â€œeye on the prizeâ€ of a return to decency in her neighborhood, and she was unrelenting in its pursuit. Jane not only pioneered the use of Zone Restrictions and Civil Abatement Proceedings in her crime fighting efforts, but she developed unprecedented working relationships with TPD, and other government agencies. Through her personal example of honesty, integrity, and hard work, she commanded the respect of all the policemen, attorneys, staffers, and politicians with whom she worked.
Nick is The Instigator south of Grant Road. It would not be accurate to call him the â€œJane Bakerâ€ of the Ocotillo neighborhood. While it is true that Nick learned from Jane, and applied her techniques to his terrain; they are two different personalities. Jane is driven by a passion based in a deep seeded sense of right and wrong. Her passion motivates her. Nick is dispassionate, and proceeds with quiet resolve. Jane will react without a thought for her own safety. Nick fully understands the risks, but also understands that there is something more important at the moment than his safety. Jane lives in her neighborhood, Nick works in his. The Instigator is not a personality type; rather, he has the common traits of honesty, integrity, stubbornness, hard work, co-operation, and dogged determination that he shares with other successful Instigators.
A lone Instigator is not sufficient for success. Jane knew that she needed help from the City, particularly TPD, to achieve her goal. TPD has proven itself a worthy champion of the crime fighting efforts of the Oracle Corridor neighborhoods. A relationship is a two-way street, and TPD matched Jane and Nickâ€™s commitment to crime reduction. The professionalism, dedication, and creativity that TPD brought to the Oracle Corridor are exemplary. While jurisdictions in other parts of the country devolve into servants of politicians, TPD fulfills its roll of helping the people protect themselves â€“ the proper roll of law enforcement in our society. Combine this with support from the City Attorneyâ€™s office, City Magistrates, Mayor and Council, and other government agencies, and the resulting long-term comprehensive programs will yield long-term comprehensive results.
Contrary to popular myth, progress does not result from neighbors â€œcoming togetherâ€, or finding a â€œconsensusâ€. It comes from an individual taking a stand against the tide, who draws others to him in the wake.