ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/WBNG) — New York state would legalize the buying and selling of sex under a proposal introduced in the state Legislature that would lift criminal penalties for sex work.
Broome County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Ben Harting worries about what could happen if the proposal is passed.
“Biggest concern is sex trafficking,” he told 12 News on Tuesday. “Anytime you start introducing any form of prostitution or anything like that, you’re really increasing the odds of sex trafficking.”
Supporters say criminal penalties for prostitution haven’t worked, and that legalization would improve sex worker safety while reducing trafficking and exploitation.
There are hundreds of people looking to sell sex on a daily basis, through websites like “Backpage Binghamton” and “Skip the Games.”
“It happens anywhere, anytime without people even knowing,” Lt. Harting said.
In fact, it happens so often that law enforcement can’t keep up.
“With the explosion of social media and the Internet, there’s so much going on that at any point in time it’s impossible for law enforcement to keep on it, every single thing going on,” he explained.
The bill was announced Monday and isn’t expected to get a vote before the Democrat-led Senate and Assembly plan to adjourn for the year next week.
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.