Residents Ask Commission, Police to Crack Down on Prostitution - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/25/02

Residents Ask Commission, Police to Crack Down on Prostitution

Prostitution, drugs and crime aren't common topics at Chatham County Commission meetings, but with the growing problems on Ogeechee Road, nearby residents came to the commission asking for help. It is a problem commissioners and police are taking very seriously.

You may remember, just a month ago, a murder took place at the Liberty Inn on Ogeechee, and just recently police had to close down a hotel and carwash in the area for problems related to drugs and prostitution. All this is sparking some serious solutions that could have everyone talking.

Ogeechee Road has become known as Savannah's red light district, and nearby residents say this prostitution and other crime is polluting the area and trickling into their neighborhoods.

"We're seeing people walk through neighborhoods that don't belong there, particularly at dusk which gets us uneasy," said area resident Mike Johnson.

Police say it's this type of activity bringing the drugs and the crime, so they are cracking down on the businesses allowing this to take place.

"We are now going into a surge mode for enforcement operations along that strip," Chief Tom Sprague of the Chatham County police told us.

Residents in the area also convinced the county commission to ask the courts for help. Commissioners are requesting any prostitute arrested and convicted in the Ogeechee area be banned from there and any other areas known for prostitution, and some want to take it one step further. In an effort to help curb the problem, some people want to really put it in the spotlight, showing everyone who is working the streets for a living and who is paying their salary.

"You try and buy a hooker for $50, we might play it on video on a local channel," said commissioner Harris O'Dell.

"I would also like to see prostitutes' and johns' pictures published in the media," concurred Sprague.

All these solutions pleased the residents who want to bring a stop to a growing problem, and county commissioners who represent the area will be meeting with the residents in a month to discuss developments. Police will also be bringing reports to commissioners to show their progress.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro

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