UPDATE: HPD use new tactics to fight prostitution; former prostitute says more changes needed

Published: May. 22, 2017 at 11:27 PM EDT
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UPDATE 5/23/17 @ 5:35 p.m.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Huntington Police tell WSAZ they are using new tactics to fight the prostitution problem and they are not making it a secret.

As we told you Monday night at 11, four more prostitutes were arrested. It's the fifth sting in five weeks.

Single women were back walking the street on 9th and 10th Street West, between the main drags of Washington and Adams avenues Tuesday afternoon, the same spot just hours earlier the four were arrested.

Harold Roberts Jr. has lived at 10th and Adams for nine years.

"Except for the prostitution and drugs, not too bad," he said. "It's kind of quiet other than that."

But because of that, it's not very quiet.

"They do need help," Roberts said.

Huntington Police have arrested a total of 18 women in weekly stings.

Capt. Rocky Johnson said it's a change in tactics. Until this year, they did it monthly. But it's no secret.

"We're going to do this every week until something changes. So far it's been five weeks in a row, same results."

Judging by the walkers Tuesday, nothing has changed.

"The problem happens pretty much all day," Johnson said.

For most, it's a result of the heroin problem.

For police, the goal is that date in court helps them seek the treatment they need.

"I think they are the victims," he said.

One of those victims and a survivor of the prostitute lifestyle is Najah Menapace, the first graduate in Huntington's Women Empowerment and Addiction Recovery (WEAR) program.

Wednesday will mark 18 months clean after an off-and-on battle for the last 13 years.

She never thought this day would come.

"Never," she said. "I was so bad, i just wanted to give up, just wanted to die."

She believes there will be prostitutes as long as there are female addicts, willing to do whatever it takes to get money for drugs.

"They can't be forced. You have to want it. But you also have to have help to do it," she adds. "I'm just glad I don't live that way anymore."

That's why she says it's time for police to start targeting the men who provide that money.

"They wouldn't be out there if it weren't other people to pick them up," Menapace said.

"It's coming," Johnson said. "So the message is, if you're a john and out here trolling, you better think twice because it's coming."

Roberts isn't surprised by the recent arrests on his block, but he also doesn't think it will make much of a difference long term in an endless cycle of the street walkers.

"I don't think they'll ever get rid of it. I don't think they'll ever get rid of it."

Huntington Police say arresting the men who hire prostitutes takes a different set of tactics.

At times, the department has taken out billboards to put up the photos of men caught soliciting prostitutes.

Prostitutes told police they were very effective, so the department is exploring the possibility of using them again.

"Every week we're going to be out and we're going to do prostitution stings until something changes," Johnson said.


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Four women were arrested Monday on prostitution charges, Cabell County court records show.

All of the women were arrested on misdemeanor charges.

The women were arrested after they allegedly offered sexual favors to undercover Huntington Police officers.

One of the women also was wanted on a DUI warrant.