Vice Unit targets Johns to combat prostitution

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Police Department is cracking down on prostitution, specifically on the men who seek out prostitutes.

MPD's Vice Unit is in charge of street level investigations including drugs and prostitution. The group said the only way to stop prostitution is stop the people paying for it.

A Vice Unit agent posed undercover outside a motel on Lester Street. She is waiting for a "John" to take the bait. John is the name given to men who solicit prostitutes.

WMC Action News 5 investigators were with police during this operation. Our cameras caught several Johns going up to the undercover agent and starting up a conversation.

The operation nabbed six men in just over an hour. Some went into police custody willingly; others put up a fight.

The busts focused on prostitution in the Binghampton neighborhood, but investigators declined to pin point one central hot spot for prostitution in Memphis. Instead they said it was a problem that plagues all of the Bluff City.

"We see it in some areas where there is a large amount of drug issues; you see more prostitution in and around hotels," Lt. Col. Paul Wright said.

The sting operations are often driven by complaints from both residents and business about sexual activity happening near their homes and businesses.

Despite the illegal nature of the business, whether the prostitutes are in the business by choice or by necessity, Wright treats all of the prostitutes as victims.

"Those that choose to be prostitutes and go out to engage on their own, these are individuals that we do need to talk to and try to change their lifestyle or try to get them help," Wright said.

We checked in with police and are waiting to the get final tally of arrest made resulting from this operation.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.