OP police take prostitution stings seriously

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The world's oldest profession is getting some serious attention from a suburban police department.

Just six weeks into the new year, Overland Park police have already busted 17 people for prostitution related crimes.

Going back the past two years, you may be surprised at the number of prostitution arrests Overland Park police made. In 2011, 98 people were picked up for offering to buy or sell sex. Last year was down a bit, but still there were 76 arrests.

The reasoning is simple -- police there believe prostitution goes hand in hand with the drug trade -- and everything escalates from there.

"They feed off each other, it's decaying of the neighborhoods when you let these elements get in there, certainly can affect everything else and can snowball from there," Officer Gary Mason said.

Police have made prostitution a priority. Fewer and fewer police departments are seeing prostitutes working the streets, instead they are letting technology do the leg work and waiting for Johns to come to them.

The sting is relatively easy and both men and women still fall for it.

An undercover officers puts info out online and waits for the phone to ring. Then, a date is set up and once the person arrives, if a deal is made, out come the handcuffs.

With nearly 200 arrests the past two plus years, word is definitely getting out.

"As soon as they mention Overland Park as a meeting place, the phone goes click and that's the end of that conversation, so I think it is getting out there, think reputation we have as far as a city proactive getting out there and conducting these sting activities," Mason said.

Overland Park detectives use hotels, motels and apartment complex's throughout the city.

Mason said without the cooperation, their job would be difficult.

"Having a partnership with these businesses is really key to us being successful, we get in there, detectives get in there teach them what to look for what to observe, report back to us what they're seeing."

Overland Park averages about one prostitution type sting each month and they have the resources dedicated to handle them.

The special victims unit was created three years ago in February, and as long as the results keep coming, so will the stings.

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