The Salt Lake City and Unified Police Departments organized crime unit collaborated for a four-day prostitution sting which led to the arrest of more than 40 people before the operation ended on Friday, police said.
The reasons behind paying special attention to the crime go far beyond the act of selling sex, Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking said on Friday.
“I would say that prostitution isn’t the only situation that we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with a form of human trafficking, we’re dealing with substance use and abuse. … This has far-reaching effects. It’s not just simple prostitution,” he said.
Amid the operation, which happened throughout the Salt Lake valley, officers searched in hotel rooms and out on the streets for those involved with prostitution, Wilking said.
Although Salt Lake police always uphold prostitution laws, the operation was an opportunity to focus on it alongside Unified police, the detective added.
“What it means for us is that we’re not going to turn a blind eye to this. We’re going to work on, continue to arrest people for this, and it’s not going away,” he said.
“In turn, we think it sends a message to the people that are engaged in it, they might want to think twice before participating in this activity.”
The detective clarified that those involved with prostitution, from prostitutes themselves to those who frequent them, come from “all walks of life.”
“We have religious leaders, politicians, your homeless, your average Joe out there. We have everybody that solicits prostitution, all different walks of life, as well as the women that are engaged in prostitution come from all different walks of life,” he said. “The prostitution isn’t going away, but neither are we. We’re going to continue to focus on that.”