Madison Police cracking down on prostitution - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Madison Police cracking down on prostitution

Madison Police think the city's clean image may be giving prostitutes and johns a sense of security. Madison Police think the city's clean image may be giving prostitutes and johns a sense of security.

Madison Police are cracking down on the sex trade that begins in Cyberspace and ends in motels on Madison Boulevard.

The latest sting on Valentine's Day put six people behind bars. The accused prostitute and five suspected johns – all locals – were arrested on prostitution-related charges. This bust comes just two months after two men were arrested on similar charges by Madison PD in December.

Although law enforcement will agree prostitution exists in every city, it is something many people don't expect to happen in Madison. With a squeaky-clean image and low crime rate, the city was recently named the safest in all of Alabama, according to an online realty publication.

Police said part of the issue could be the very thing they pride themselves on – the city's safe image.

"Because Madison is such a safe city and we do have our officers out being proactive. We don't have a lot of the street-level robberies and assaults that some of the larger areas do. People who are engaging in these activities may feel safer coming here," said Police Captain John Stringer.

Police said this kind of prostitution is facilitated through social media and websites like BackPage, where hundreds of postings involving sex in the metro area are found under the site's "adult" section, all with explicit photos and language.

Some listings are more bold than others, coming right out with their services and fees. Others use codewords and phrases such as "looking for companionship," and many don't even make the mention of money.

Captain Stringer said some call themselves models or escorts. "A lot of them will have their own Facebook pages and then they will refer you to their ads on BackPage or whatever the dating site might be," he said.

Hotels and motels also have a hand in cracking down on this type of crime. Police said there area a handful of motels, mainly on Madison Boulevard, that are typically targeted by this activity. They tend to have lower rates, and people exchanging sex for money typically pick these locations due to the anonymity that comes with it.

Police said some motel and hotel owners are more proactive than others in prevention. They alert police to suspected activity. The department is working with these businesses to put prostitution to a stop, but they say it is a cooperative effort.

"We want to get to the point where all of our hotel managers are more selective on who they are allowing to be on their property, so that particular area or hotel doesn't become a center or a target for criminal activity, whether it's inside or out in the parking lot," Captain Stringer said.

Police said prostitution is not a victimless crime, and often brings with it violence and other types of crime. Now police are quickly cracking down by arresting both the prostitutes and the johns. Police want to make it clear – engaging in prostitution is not safe in their city. The bottom line, they say, is if you get caught, you will go to jail.

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