By Jeff Lehr
Joplin police this week reversed the course of recent online sting operations and nabbed johns instead of prostitutes at a local motel.
Detectives with the Joplin Police Department have been calling the numbers listed in escort services ads on Backpage.com over the past nine months and either arresting or citing those who showed up for dates. They reversed the sting Wednesday, according to police Sgt. Chad Allison.
“We posted the ad and had johns respond to us,” Allison said.
Detectives arrested one man and cited three others for soliciting prostitution when they arrived at a designated motel room with an intention of paying for sexual favors, he said. Their ages ranged from 36 to 67, and all were from the Joplin or Springfield areas.
Allison said the johns face the same misdemeanor charge with which police have been booking the prostitutes who advertise on Backpage.com. He said the decision to target johns instead of prostitutes reflects the department’s acknowledgment that customers contribute to the problems prostitution brings to the city.
He said detectives posted an ad under the female escorts section of Backpage.com with a picture of a woman and the proverbial promise: “For a good time.” The ad included a “trucker friendly” enticement.
“But none of (those who responded to the ad) ended up being truck drivers,” Allison said.