Yesterday the Northeast News had exclusive access to an undercover officer during a prostitution sting along Independence Avenue.
“You gotta look the part,” the decoy said.
In a sad tragedy that plays out everyday along Kansas City’s major urban thoroughfares, prostitution is a way of life and a way to make a living for individuals who live in and around “the street.”
During a break in the action, we spoke to both uniformed officers involved in the sting operation as well as one decoy who agreed to talk to us under the condition of anonymity.
“For the men, you’re nothing more than an object,” the decoy stated. “They’ve got $20. They think they own you for that period of time.”
While our decoy came from a very structured home environment, growing up on the city’s east side was a different story.
“I grew up with chaos all around me,” she stated. “I’ve seen it first hand, so I know how to say those little things to get inside their head and how to look the part. You have to suspend ‘you’ and be what they want.”
She emphasized the “what” over the “who” because that’s the way the racket goes.
“You’re not a human being to them—you’re an object.”
As the decoy worked the area near Independence Avenue and Benton Boulevard, a signal is quickly given that notifies officers that a solid deal has been made.
During one of the last deals of the afternoon, contact was made by a potential John two minutes and fourteen seconds after the decoy hit the street.
Confirmation of a deal was made at the 2:55 mark and officers had the John in cuffs at roughly 3:28.
When confirmation is made, teams move swiftly to not only apprehend the suspect, but also to protect the safety and identity of the decoy.
We asked our decoy what those precious seconds are like after the deal is made.
“You know your team is moving in,” she said. “They have my back and we put our trust in their ability to respond quickly.”
“Safety and security is key,” said Sergeant Terry Owens who supervises a number of such operations as East Patrol’s Impact Squad Supervisor. “While one team is contacting the suspect, another one is focused on the safety of the decoy. This is very much a well-oiled machine.”
During a two-hour operation on Wednesday afternoon as the Northeast News rode with Owens’ squad, four Johns were detained and charged with solicitation of a prostitute, a misdemeanor crime in municipal court.
Prices ranged from $20 to $50 for the actions solicited.
The day-long operation netted one felony arrest, 16 individuals being charged with solicitation/performing prostitution, the clearing of 17 city warrants, and the issuing of two drug paraphernalia summons.
It is important to note that all subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The subjects were released on their own recognizance and will appear before a judge who will determine their guilt or innocence.