If you think prostitution in Kansas City happens under the cover of darkness, think again.
KCTV5's investigative unit followed the vice squad as they combed streets and set up stings inside hotels in the middle of the day.
“Most people think it's all seedy, it's all under the edge of the night that sort of thing. Most of your Johns, they can get away at lunch break or when they get off work. It's busy no matter what time it is lunch or 9 p.m.,” said Sgt. Brad Dummit, who runs the vice squad.
Dummit said he’s familiar with the vicious cycle of prostitution and tries to connect women with resources. But he admits many don’t want his help.
“It's kind of like being in quicksand, it’s hard to get out of it,” Dummit said.
That truth was echoed by the women KCTV5 encountered as we followed the vice squad.
One woman arrested was a mother who had a full-time job but needed extra money. She’s been arrested for solicitation before and was embarrassed to be caught again.
“I just had a really rough life, that's all. I don't know how much I can really explain it. I had a really rough life,” the women said.
“Are drugs a part of it?" questioned KCTV5 investigative reporter Angie Ricono.
“They have been yeah. I'm not going to lie,” said the woman.
Another woman Ricono met is a grandmother who was familiar to police. She’s fighting to stay clean from drugs.
“Does it get scary out here?” questioned Ricono.
“Yeah. It's a risk you take every day,” the grandmother said.
“Why do you do it then?” Ricono asked.
“I don't know. It sucks! It sucks! Because I was in the process going to Nebraska to go see my daughter ... she’s going to Mexico next month, and now I failed them once again,” the grandmother said.
While most women admitted to the dangers and how drugs played a role, many refused to speak or became hostile when asked about how their lives got to this point.
“There ain't nothing you can do about it! You need to stop worrying about what I'm doing and mind your own business,” said one woman caught soliciting on Kansas City’s streets.
Men were also arrested during the street and hotel sweeps. They were even more reluctant to speak. But it was obvious how uncomfortable the process was for both sides. Many men didn’t even carry their phones or identification inside the rooms, concerned they would be robbed.
Dummit reports men buying sex come in all ages and occupations. Kansas City police have busted roofers and CEOs of companies. And Dummit says he’s no longer surprised by the backgrounds of the women.
“We've had teachers, real estate agents you name it, we've had it. There's really no end to it. Nothing surprises me,” Dummit said.
Prostitution is a constant battle for police departments, although the arrests rarely make the news.
Last year, 142 people were arrested for solicitation, 152 for patronizing, five for promoting prostitution and eight were arrested for human trafficking.
Dummit says it’s important to fight prostitution because of the problems associated with it.
“People label prostitution a victimless crime. But obviously, it’s far from it. Obviously, there are so many things that come along with it like narcotics and human trafficking. Sadly, there are a lot of kids that get wrapped up in prostitution at an early age,” Dummit said.
If you, or someone you know, needs help to break free of prostitution visit www.veronicasvoice.org or call 816-483-7101.
Copyright 2017 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.