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"John" Sting Nets Ten Arrests, First Vehicles Impounded Under New Law

New Prostitution Impound Law Sign

Kent, Wash – July 29, 2009 – Officers from Kent P.D.'s Special Investigations Unit conducted an undercover sting aimed at those who patronize prostitutes on the evening of Wednesday, July 29.  Undercover decoy officers were placed at a location along Pacific Highway South.  There were ten arrests for patronizing, and one arrest for promoting prostitution. 

Earlier in the week, a new law enacted by the Washington State Legislature had gone into effect.  The new law allows certain signed areas to be designated as impound zones.  If a person is arrested for patronizing a prostitute, their vehicle is impounded and a $500 fee must be paid before the vehicle is released.  This fee is in addition to the required court appearance and any penalties for the crime itself.  Every penny of the $500 fee goes to a state fund for social services aimed specifically at prevention and intervention of prostitution. 

John Sting Suspect ArrestedOf the ten persons arrested five of them had their vehicles impounded.  The law allows impound if the vehicle is owned by the arrestee or is a rental car.  Attached is a photo of the signage placed along the roadway, as well as a photo of the first vehicle actually impounded in the state under the new law.  Four of the five had paid their fee to get their cars back by the end of the night.  As with any impound in the state, individuals have due process rights to contest impoundments and fees through a civil process.

A man who approached one of the police decoys attempted to "recruit" her and after further investigation he was arrested for promoting prostitution.  The man was a Level 3 registered sex offender with a criminal history including rape of a child and molestation. 

Tow Company Impounding Car

"The arrest of a sex offender makes it even clearer that street prostitution is not a victimless crime.  Our neighborhoods deserve better," said Kent Police Chief Steve Strachan.  "This is about sending a strong and simple message: this is not tolerated here in Kent.  We will keep doing stings, and now we will impound cars."  Kent P.D. will be conducting additional stings aimed at the "johns" who further this illegal activity. 

Lieutenant Lisa Price
City of Kent Police