Editor’s note: Details included in the video above and story below are intended for mature audiences only.
KANSAS CITY, Mo — In the shadow of our beautiful city, there lies a seedy underbelly fueled by addiction, mental illness and moral degradation.
Crimes like prostitution, human trafficking and child exploitation are often the result.
FOX4 news got a rare opportunity to ride along with KCPD’s Vice Squad during a three-day crime sting.
For the past 18 years, Sgt. Brad Dumit has been the top cop of the group. During that time, he put together a task force, including federal, state and local law enforcement officers, to fight crimes in all parts of the metro.
On the crew FOX4 tagged along with, beside members of KCPD, there were deputies from the Clay County and Jackson County sheriff’s offices, the FBI and Overland Park police.
This fierce group of law enforcement officers target prostitution and human trafficking, among other crimes.
One way Dumit and his crew attack street prostitution is by cracking down on “Johns” who fuel the demand. An undercover female officer works the streets dressed and acting like a prostitute. Men approach the decoy, make a deal to exchange money for sex and the crime is complete.
Right out of the gate, the decoy bagged three men in a row, all who later denied soliciting prostitution.
“Did you offer to pay her for sex?” FOX4’s Shannon O’Brien asked one man busted in the sting.
“No, I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “I was just driving, and they pulled me over.”
Another man admitting he talked to the decoy, but not for solicitation.
“But I did talk to her, so I was wrong,” the man said.
“Did you make a deal for sex with her?” O’Brien asked.
“No, no I didn’t,” he said. “She hollered at me about something, but that was it. I didn’t ever say, ‘Yeah let’s do it.'”
A third man crossed Independence Avenue and approached the decoy on foot.
“The lady had her knees dirty, and I came over and I asked her (if she was OK),” he said. “She said I will suck your *** for $20, and I kept it moving. That was it. That was all.”
The Vice Squad also targets the prostitutes who walk the streets.
A male officer, dressed in plain clothes and driving an undercover car, stops and asks suspected prostitutes if they are working. Most of the time, the prostitutes get in the car before the deal is made to discuss what the driver wants.
Once an agreement is made for sex in exchange for money, the decoy gives a signal and undercover police move in, pull the car over and arrest the prostitute.
Similar to the “Johns,” prostitutes rarely admit to the crime police suspect them of committing. This was the case with one woman caught in the sting Monday night.
“Did you offer him sex for money?” O’Brien asked.
“Nope, I sure didn’t. He kept offering me, and I said, ‘Uh-uh, no. I am cool. Take me home.'” the suspected prostitute said.
Dumit said the prostitutes committing this crime are often also victims.
“We have social service workers, so if the girls need services to try and get out of the lifestyle and get away from someone, we have that available to them as well,” Dumit said.
“I drink and, occasionally, I may smoke a little joint or something, but it is mostly the drinking,” the suspected prostitute said. “You know, there is a lot of girls out here who are worse than me.”
An officer involved in the arrest told her, “When you go to jail and you talk to the judge in the morning, you need to tell him that you want help and you need a program that is going to help you.”
The Vice Squad not only chases prostitution, but also other crimes like child enticement and other types of sexual crimes.
“We get complaints on adult book stores and theaters, sometimes unwanted touching and sexual assaults and things like that,” Dumit said.
The Vice Squad raided adult book store and pornographic movie theater, The Strand, on Troost. Inside, they found men pleasuring themselves in the theater, which is against the law. Two men were picked up for exposing themselves.
“That’s why places like this exist isn’t it?” one of the men said. “To entertain yourself.”
Some of the same people committing these types of crimes are the same people who also commit felonies. That’s why Dumit believes it’s important to pay attention to it all.
“It affects everybody on both state lines and all jurisdictions,” Dumit said. “Somebody we may pull over today, we may work with or we may have dealings with down the road. It may be narcotics. It may be a plethora of things down the road, so they all spider off into different directions.”
While FOX4 was out with one crew, others were in cities across the metro running other operations, including prostitution busts in hotels and truck stops.
The three-day sting yielded 44 arrests for misdemeanors and felonies, including the ones mentioned in this story. Other arrests included alleged crimes involving child enticement and child pornography, assault with a knife, narcotics, property crimes and selling liquor to minors.
Similar stings like this take place throughout the year, but the times are a secret.