Woman arrested during prostitution sting speaks out

By: Erica Rakow Email
By: Erica Rakow Email

Panama City-- By day, the St. Andrew’s area along Highway 98 in Panama City looks like a safe, bustling business area. But Panama City Police say people engaged in the world's oldest profession take over at night.

"We work with undercover officers to conduct operations to identify both prostitutes and johns," said Panama City Police Deputy Chief, Robert Colbert.

Last Thursday and Friday, police conducted a prostitution sting around the 3400 block of West 98. They arrested 3 women accused of being prostitutes, and 16 men accused of trying to buy sex.

"A lot of those unfortunately are individuals we deal with day in and day out," said Colbert.

Leila Teer is one of those repeat offenders. Since 1998, she's been arrested several times on prostitution charges.

"It's affected my life really bad. I have two small children here, my whole family's here. It's embarrassing," said Teer.

And Teer says it's gotten progressively worse.

"It's really crazy, it really is. These little young girls are out there and they're clueless and it just worries me that one day they may die. They'll get in the wrong vehicle with the wrong guy," said Teer.

"It's like a broken window. If you don't address it, then it's going to evolve into something worse so we're going to maintain a steady attention to it," said Colbert.

Not only are police concerned about related crimes, they're also worried about the city's image to visitors.

"As they cross the Hathaway Bridge and they're coming into Panama City, that's one of the first things they see and we want to make sure they're not being encountered with this type of scenery," said Colbert.

Police say resident and business complaints sparked this latest crackdown.

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