Dozens of Accused "Johns" Arrested in Prostitution Sting

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Those living and working along parts of Highway 98 in Panama City say their streets have become plagued with prostitutes and they want a stop to it, so now Panama City police are going under cover to clean up the streets.

It's known as the world's oldest profession, and the trade has found its way to the streets of Panama City's west side. Panama City Police recently wrapped up a weeklong prostitution sting, and our cameras were with them.

During the day, Panama City's west side looks like a safe, bustling town, but when the sun goes down the street walkers go to work and the small town becomes anything but safe.

"The neighbors and businesses in that part of town deserve to have a safe neighborhood. We don't want prostitutes walking up and down the streets in front of businesses and residents," says Panama City Police Chief David Slusser.

On Friday night, Panama City police officers went undercover to target those men soliciting prostitutes, or the so-called "Johns". The police officers posing as prostitutes do wear a wire and record everything the potential "John" asks for.

The four-night prostitution sting ended in 72 men being arrested, including several family men and an airman from Tyndall Air Force Base. Soliciting a prostitute is only a misdemeanor, but police officials say it's not the charge that will deter this illegal action.

"The actual charge itself isn't what scares these "Johns”, it's the idea that their wives and families may find out," says Sgt. Mark Walton.

Walton hopes that the embarrassment these men went through will serve as an example for anyone else that has thought of picking up a prostitute off the streets. Nine prostitutes were also arrested during the four-day prostitution sting. The Bay County Sheriff's office also assisted in the sting.


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