City of Polk Valley Police Officer Frank Crane and Polk county Deputy Liz Sternin created an embarrassing incident during a recent prostitution sting. City cops were working to bust the hookers. At the same time the sheriff’s department was working to bust people seeking to hire prostitutes.A recent increase in crime has been linked to the explosion of prostitution in the Polk Valley area. Many of the prostitutes and even their customers are not locals, people travel to Polk Valley to trade money for sex. It is all these people from out of town bringing in drugs and causing violent confrontations.
Unfortunately the police and sheriff’s departments don’t always like to team up for task force work. So each agency has been doing their own investigations and sting operations to combat the influx of prostitutes.
At the Sheriff’s department a decision to focus on the customers was made. A number of younger female deputies were given training to work undercover. Ads were posted online at various places like BackPage that allow “escorts” to advertise.
Meanwhile the Police department started to target the working girls. A number of male officers were sent to training for undercover work. These officers would check out the ads on sites like BackPage and call to arrange the meet up.
Saturday afternoon Officer Crane looked at the ad placed by Deputy Sternin. He called the number and she answered. They agreed she would come to his motel room in an hour. The PD had made an agreement with a local motel to get access to adjoining rooms for these operations.
An hour later the Deputy arrived at the motel. She was wearing a wire to record the conversation. The Police had hid microphones in the motel room to also record the conversation. Backup teams were staged listening to the audio from these microphones live.
A major part of the training on these undercover operations was the issue of entrapment. An undercover cannot initiate the discussion of payment for sex, the actual illegal activity. So for almost forty-five minutes these two law enforcement officer chatted and tried to get the other to instigate the talk of payment.
Sheriff’s deputies from the backup team started to get impatient and were pacing in the hotel hall by the room. Police officers on the PD backup team could hear the pacing and looked out the peephole in the door.
Suddenly then the PD realized what was going on. Officers stepped into the hall to ask if they had a female deputy in the room. All the members of the backup teams suddenly realized what was going on.
Police and Sheriff’s department spokes persons said they are trying to figure out a way to make each other aware of their operations.