The Sioux Falls Police Department is sending a message to anyone even thinking of hiring a prostitute: Set up a date and you could end up face to face with a police officer.
Police call it a reverse sting. Undercover female officers pose as prostitutes, place online ads and agree to meet the suspects at a local motel. On Thursday, officers arrested 52-year-old Adam Alrubaie of Hartford, 63-year-old Daniel Klecker of Sioux Falls and 30-year-old Mitchell Whitefield of Grand Rapids, Michigan. They face misdemeanor charges for trying to pay for sex.
"I hope people get the message; that we're not going to be taking prostitution lightly," Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said.
With 18 arrests in six months, and more stings planned for the future, Clemens said the operations are making a difference.
"Without that demand, we're not going to have the prostitutes around. So, we're trying to work both sides of this," Clemens said.
Though this undercover work on the internet may not completely erase prostitution in Sioux Falls, the goal is to bring down sex crime numbers. Officials say the arrests also create more awareness about human trafficking in South Dakota, which in some cases can mean the prostitute was forced into the act. Clemens said hotel cooperation is a big part of these successful stings because employees will report suspicious criminal behavior.
"If it comes out of how many arrests we're making, if we do this one or two times and we don't make any arrests, then maybe our message is getting out there that it is not a good idea to hire prostitutes," Clemens said.