OVERLAND PARK, Kansas - In the last three months Johnson County law enforcement agents have made over 40 arrests when it comes to prostitution problems.
The latest arrest happened Thursday afternoon at an undisclosed Overland Park hotel.
“We have an ongoing effort to work these types of cases and conduct operations where we actively try and arrest people for prostitution,” said Officer Matthew Bregel.
Bregel said they have been successful with these sting operations, but they can’t go into detail about how they run them.
Kristy Childs who works with Veronica’s Voice, women who have been sexually exploited, said it’s a bigger problem than many people understand.
“The women you see on Troost and Independence Avenue is only about five to seven percent of the problem in the Kansas City area. There are so many things happening that go on behind closed doors,” said Childs. “When people think of prostitution activity they think of the inner city, Independence Avenue, and Troost, things like that, when in all reality, the majority of prostitution is happening in the suburbs.”
We tagged along with one of her outreach programs as they tried to convince women to get off the streets. It’s a fight that hits close to home for Childs. She was a prostitute at the age of 12.
“I was 12 years old when I trafficked into the industry; I was just prostituting to survive. I was just running away continually running away and being placed back into the home where the abuse was happening. I started hitchhiking and it was through hitchhiking with truck drivers that the prostitution actually began,” said Childs.
Now she spends her time helping the women.
“We need to shift our focus to the demand which is our root cause because without the demand there wouldn't be girls recruited into this industry - as well as there would not be pimps and traffickers,” explained Childs.
Meanwhile police departments like Overland Park try and stop the prostitution problem their way.
“We are going to continue to run sting operations, and do what we do. Our hotels and our businesses they don't want this activity to take place,” said Bregel.
Both admit it’s an issue that deserves more attention.