Maryland Police Dept. to Live-Tweet Prostitution Sting

Critics on social media say the plan is an example of "police brutality."

May 2, 2014— -- A Maryland police department will live-tweet a prostitution sting sometime next week, it said.

“From the ads to the arrests, we’ll show you how the PGPD is battling the oldest profession,” the Prince George’s County Police Department announced on its website Thursday.

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The department invited people to follow along on social media with a hashtag, #PGPDVice.

Not everyone was a fan of the plan.

Critics were using the hashtag to voice concern about the live-tweet session -- calling it “police brutality” and a “horrific violation of rights.”

Police responded to the criticism by posting another message online Thursday night, saying they will only target people who solicit prostitutes, not prostitutes themselves.

“The intent all along has been to put on notice and/or arrest the very people who exploit women and even young girls in our community,” the message read. “Some young girls and women involved in prostitution are victims of human trafficking. Our Vice Unit regularly helps trafficked women connect with groups and advocates who help them escape the dangerous sex trade.”

Polaris Project, a nonprofit group that works to help prevent sex trafficking, still doesn't think live-tweeting a sting is a good idea.

Spokesman Brandon Bouchard said the social media stunt is a distraction from the real problem.

"Many sex trafficking victims have faced traumatic exploitation by their pimps and traffickers, and law enforcement should take measures to avoid even greater trauma during raids and arrests," he said in a statement.

"Sex trafficking is complex, and law enforcement should ensure that victim-witness coordinators are present to assess for human trafficking because we know that many adults engaged in commercial sex were forced or became involved as children. Rather than publicizing real-time actions, we encourage law enforcement agencies to increase their focus on protecting victims.”

The PGPD has not yet responded to’s request for comment.

Last week, another police social media campaign, by the New York Police Department, backfired. The police force asked Twitter users to post photos of themselves with officers, using the hashtag, #myNYPD. People flooded the NYPD’s account with photos of alleged police brutality in action, appearing to show officers wielding pepper spray and bloody protesters.