Anyone who’s ever watched HBO’s “Hookers at the Point” should know better, but one New York cop apparently has a weird idea of how streetwalking prostitutes outfit themselves these days.
Back on Jan. 9, in the early morning hours, the police officer arrested 26-year-old Felicia McGinnis at Seventh Avenue near 48th St. in Manhattan, hauling her in on prostitution charges.
The officer, described in a New York Post report of the arrest as a veteran vice cop, observed McGinnis speaking to three separate people within a 20-minute period, all near the same corner in Manhattan’s famed Broadway theatre district.
Granted, this same vice officer had arrested McGinnis on prostitution charges before. In fact, the young woman was busted no less than 16 times in the past two years in New York City alone. That doesn’t count her lengthy rap sheet in other jurisdictions.
Nonetheless, New York City Criminal Court Judge Felicia Mennin threw this case out of court because in his arrest report, the officer couldn’t think of a better reason to pinch McGinnis than her outfit — a pea coat, skinny jeans and heels.
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But the cop, who did not note if the three people McGinnis was seen speaking with were male or female was careful to point out that the jeans “outlined” the woman’s legs.
“[The] characterization of the jeans as ‘revealing’ because they ‘outlined the defendant’s legs’ seems more to be expected in the dress code of a 1950s high school than a criminal-court pleading,” Mennin said in a written opinion tossing the case on Oct. 15. “Any current issue of a fashion magazine would display plenty of women similarly dressed. However, the choice of such outfit hardly demonstrates the wearer’s proclivity to engage in prostitution.”
The photo at right shows four young women possibly risking arrest based upon their provocative attire. Their outfits are similar to the one that got McGinnis arrested.
Actual pea-coat-wearing young women interviewed by a New York University student news website were appalled at the seeming characterization of their own ensembles as hooker-wear.
“That’s absolutely f*****g ridiculous, because that’s a completely normal outfit to wear on a regular basis,” said one student, Gaby Del Valle. “Even if she’s a ‘known’ prostitute or whatever, there’s no reason to arrest her if she wasn’t actually going up to people and exchanging sex for money.”
“Prostitution is a problem, but it isn’t going to be solved by the NYPD identifying potential offenders by the tightness of their denim,” added a second student, Helen Holmes. “The NYPD is perpetuating stereotypes that fuel society’s penchant for prostitution in the first place.”
Mennin’s opinion pointed out that usually when officers note the attire of an alleged prostitute, the clothing is something along the lines of a leopard-print bikini.
The NYPD, for its part, maintains that the arrest was a solid one.
“Based on all the circumstances — which included much more than clothing — there was clearly probable cause to arrest,” said Spokesperson John McCarthy.