The New Bedford City Council is once again shining a spotlight on the city's prostitution problem. 

Three motions were filed during Thursday evening's City Council meeting attempting to combat the issue that many agree is growing, despite statistics released earlier this month that show crime is down.

Councilor-at-large Debora Coelho was a sponsor of two of the motions, requesting increased patrols around problem areas and to bring community policing back into the city. She has asked Police Chief David Provencher to meet with the council and discuss adding more foot patrols.

"The time has come that we want to bring them here and discuss this publicly because people are very concerned about this and they want to move forward on it," Coelho said.

Coelho also believes many of the girls on city streets are victims of addiciton or human trafficking. She said she's seen girls from outside the area dropped off by vans with her own eyes.

"I wasn't sure what was going on and then I watched it and, sure enough, they started working and I didn't recognize any of those faces. I actually saw them being dropped off and I saw the whole activity and I couldn't believe it," said Coelho.

Ward Two Councilor Steven Martins was a co-sponsor of the motions and said while police are doing the best they can, inadequate laws are allowing prostitutes and Johns to be picked up by officers only to be released the next day.

Martins said there need to be "stronger laws that put these people behind bars and get them the help they need."

Councilors have requested that Mayor Jon Mitchell, Chief Provencher, and the Massachusetts State Police join them in discussions on how to address the issue of crime in certain areas of the city.

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