The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

August 11, 2006

STUNG

Beckley PD arrests 37 in prostitution sting

A group of men who allegedly believed they could pay for pleasure, instead wound up being arrested — all 37 of them.

Between June 29 and Aug. 4, the men were arrested and charged with solicitation to prostitution during nine different sting operations conducted in Beckley, according to Detective Lt. Jeff Shumate of the Beckley Police Department.

In the past, the city has received numerous complaints about prostitution, and adding to the problem is a high recidivism rate of those committing the crime, Shumate said. Therefore, police decided to focus efforts on those soliciting prostitutes.

“It’s basic economics,” he said. “You take off the demand, and you lower the supply. We hope to now deter people from participating in acts with these prostitutes.”

Two volunteers who had an interest in the criminal justice field were used as decoys, Shumate said. They were both women in their early 20s. The decoys met with personnel from the Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office who gave them guidelines on what they could and could not do. One thing they were instructed not to do was enter a person’s vehicle. The decoys’ safety was a top concern of the police.

The intersections of Woodlawn Avenue and Second Street and South Fayette Street and U.S. 19 were targeted as the sting locations, Shumate said.

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The final count actually was somewhat of a shock to police.

“The numbers of those arrested were more than what we expected when this investigation began,” Shumate said. “...We would have loved to not have gotten anyone this time.”

“We thought two to three was the most we would get — maybe not even that,” Bailey said.

The police may do a similar type of investigation in the future — and they hope for a smaller amount of arrests, Shumate said.

“We want to be proactive, and we hope this will be a huge deterrent in the future,” he said.

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