Most Pinellas county residents regard themselves as rather open minded. After all, Clearwater is the world head quarters for the Church of Scientology. The St. Petersburg City Council even went so far as to issue an official “Proclamation” defending the area’s commitment to human rights and sexual orientation protection.
Sending Mixed Messages
Consider the “Gay Friendly St. Petersburg” website that offers a variety of information designed to assist those with alternative lifestyles in relocating to what they say are the most friendly LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) neighborhoods. There are plenty of local gay bars and clubs in the Tampa Bay area and Pinellas beaches with a reputation for being gay friendly. "On June 25th, 2011, St. Pete Pride Day" was celebrated with the sponsorship and backing of not only multi-national corporations, but local businesses as well.
Most of the general public has recognized and accepted persons leading alternative lifestyles. Business owners want to curry their favor, and yet law enforcement seems to be going out of their way to target them.
Financially Strapped Municipalities Spending
Money to Crack Down on Gay Cruising
Local police departments have been engaged in undercover sting operations designed to catch men who visit wooded or dense mangrove areas looking for casual consensual sexual encounters. Law enforcement agencies contend that they are motivated to take this action because of citizen complaints.
- One has to wonder how many non participating members of the public visit these out of the way and secluded places?
- Likewise, if someone were to accidentally stumble upon sexual activity, how motivated would they be to notify the police and cause themselves the inconvenience of being a witness in a subsequent prosecution?
- Would we have this type of investigative focus if the sexual activity involved heterosexuals?
Bringing in the Calvary?
The Clearwater Police Department recently announced a plan to lease three horses and conduct "mounted patrols" of Lake Chautauqua Park to "ferret out those using the park for sexual encounters." Costs for the operation are expected to include over $4,000.00 in start-up expenses and may require a $15,000.00 annual operating budget. It seems reasonable to question if such funds might be better spent on expanding violent crime investigations, tracking down stolen property, or clearing Clearwater's thirty unsolved murder cases.
Police Take Active Role to Imply they Are Willing Participants
Many of these cases involve more than simply patrolling known areas of sexual activity. To the contrary, undercover officers become actively involved by posing as a gay participant. They feign interest in taking part in a sexual encounter. In this regard, law enforcement is quite adept in their use of known signals or gestures to suggest a sexual desire or interest in the unsuspecting visitor. When the "mark" responds to the signal by removing his penis from his pants or touching the undercover officer on the arm or groin area, an arrest quickly follows. Our clients often find themselves charged with "exposure of sexual organs," lewd and lascivious conduct," or battery.
Conduct by law enforcement often "walks the line" of illegal entrapment. Likewise, some undercover officers have been known to take their "role playing" to an extreme and place their professional credibility at issue. Such questionable conduct, can at times provide the attorneys in our office with the ammunition they need to convince the Pinellas County State Attorney's Office to amend the embarrassing charge to a benign "disorderly conduct" or to outright dismiss the charge.
Common Areas in Pinellas Where Sting Operations are Conducted
A quick search of the Internet uncovered a "cruising gay website" that unabashedly revealed local restrooms with "glory holes," adult theaters with sofas and public parks known to be used as locations for men to hook up. Surprisingly, few if any mentions are made of law enforcement's "undercover" sting operations at some popular locales. However, we are well aware that the following locations are active targets:
Lake Seminole Park
Arrested for Exposure, Lewd & Lascivious Conduct or Battery?
Call a Team of Former State Prosecutors
Our Comprehensive Exposure of Sexual Organs Website Page
Call & Discuss Your Options & Possible Solutions Right over the phone
Free confidential consultation With a Defense Lawyer : (727) 578-0303
Getting Your St. Petersburg / Clearwater / Pinellas Arrest Sealed See Our Website on Getting Your Record of Arrest Sealed
Did You Receive a Notice to Appear?
Possible Solutions to Your Pinellas Criminal Charge
Getting Your St. Petersburg / Clearwater / Pinellas Charge Dismissed
What to do if You are an Out of Town Offender
What You Should Know as a First Time Offender
The Origin of the Term "Cottaging"
Looking for Male Love