NEWPORT NEWS -- 'When I first started this job, I never thought that prostitution was what it was,' confessed D, a police officer working undercover as a hooker.
'I was the one that believed that they were, again, in the mini skirts, and the high heels, and they were all really classy, and pretty and put together,' continued D. 'It's jeans, and T-shirts, and rundown hotel rooms, in and out, making fast money.'
D and 2 fellow officers were part of a 3-day anti-prostitution operation in the city. Posing as streetwalkers, they worked a relatively small area of Jefferson Avenue in front of Francisco Village Shopping Center, staying busy much of the late afternoon Friday into the evening.
'We're just, literally, walking up and down the main road through the city and left and right, cars are circling around and keeping an eye on us, pulling in, and talking to us, making deals, driving behind places,' explained D. 'As nervous as they get -- and you can see it -- if you just talk to them, make them feel a little comfortable, it's unbelievable what they'll agree to.'
13News watched as one of the undercover officers lined up 2 potential clients. The driver of a truck left, but police said the driver of an SUV told the undercover officer he needed a sandwich before they started. The SUV went across Jefferson Avenue to a restaurant, returning minutes later. Officers arrested the driver.
He is 1 of 27 people charged during the operation which focused, primarily, on street activity, but had an Internet component to it, also.
'It's not an openly violent crime,' acknowledged D, 'but, in the long run, it's very emotionally violating to the females, even when this is what they do and this what they choose to do. Many have addictions, so it's kind of a repetitive cycle of, 'Okay, let me go out and solicit myself. Here's my money. Now, I'm gonna buy drugs.''
D added that many of the men looking for sex on the streets are married or in committed relationships. When they have unprotected sex with a prostitute, they could affect those women. Drugs, themselves, and weapons often appear in the world of prostitution.
'You know, a lot of prostitutes get robbed,' said D. 'A lot of men go and pick up prostitutes, and the prostitutes are setting them up to be robbed by their friends or their pimps, so it really can lead to a lot of violence.'
In September, Newport News had 3 cases in which prospective johns were robbed. At least one was beaten so badly, he had to go to the hospital.
'I think we'll be able to deter some of the female prostitutes, even the male prostitutes, from coming out, and walking up and down the streets in front of the kids, and just putting a damper on the community,' D said, noting the operation also may deter people who, typically, don't solicit prostitutes.
'We're willing to do what we need to try to prevent these people from continuing the cycle,' D offered.