Saturday, August 15, 1998

Kim Pemberton

p. B5.

Police program helps rescue Calgary girls

A new computer system developed by two Vancouver police officers to keep track of prostitutes, pimps and their customers is being credited with locating two Calgary girls soon after they were recruited into a prostitution ring.

The girls, aged 15 and 16, ran away from their homes a month ago and the information on them was entered on the DISC computer system by Calgary police, Vancouver police media liaison Constable Anne Drennan said Friday.

Because the information was immediately available in Vancouver, she said, officers were able to distribute pictures of the girls to contacts on the street, which quickly led to tips about their whereabouts.

"This is a really good example of what the DISC program in Canada can do, Drennan said.

Drennan said the DISC program (standing for Deter and Identify Sex Trade Consumers) is being used in Vancouver, New Westminster, Abbotsford, North Vancouver and Port Moody. Other police departments in North America are also expressing an interest in going online to access the information being collected.

The Calgary police department will officially join the DISC program in the fall, but it and the Vancouver force have been trading information from it informally, she said.

In the case of the Calgary girls, the Vancouver officers who developed the DISC system, Constables Oscar Ramos and Raymond Payette, got a tip from a contact that they could be found in a Burnaby townhouse.

Police went to the 8900-block of Horne Street and discovered the 16-year-old runaway with three males police believe are pimps and two other juveniles.

There were also four toddlers in the home, who were apprehended by the ministry for children and families. The mothers of the toddlers were prostitutes working in the "small but active" prostitution ring, Drennan said.

The officers were given a second tip that the other runaway could be found at a Coquitlam motel. When police went to the room at the Slumber Lodge, at 730 Clarke, they found the 15-year-old runaway and four others -- a 17-year-old, a 19-year-old and two 20-year-olds.

In an adjacent room police found a man they believe is a pimp and an adult female who appears to act as a recruiter. They were questioned but not arrested by police, although charges of living off the avails of prostitution are pending against them and others found at the first location.

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Created: August 24, 1998
Last modified: August 24, 1998

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