SPRINGDALE, SC (WIS) - Springdale Police Chief Kevin Cornett is surprised by a lot of things after a weekend prostitution sting.
"I was surprised by the number of people we arrested and really surprised by the number of crimes that came associated with it," he said.
Fifteen people were arrested and they're facing a collection of charges for more than just prostitution alone. Cornett said one was charged for having an illegal weapon. Others, he said, had illegal drugs: meth, crack cocaine, marijuana, and more.
More significant to Cornett is where all of this happened – the Travelers Inn – a hotel on Airport Boulevard near I-26. It sits right next door to the Carolina Lodge. Cornett said he's had repeated problems at both locations.
"We've had an increase in calls for service and an increase in reports in those areas, more so in those areas than in other areas of town," he said.
In 2015, Springdale Police reported 194 incidents in that area, the 2200 block of Airport Boulevard. In 2016, the number climbed to 240. This year, the number's 144 so far.
"We've had a shooting at one of the hotels. We've had a stabbing as recent as last week at one of the hotels," Cornett said. "We have lots of aggravated assaults. We've had sexual crimes at those hotels."
In 2014, the town moved to pull the hotels' business licenses, but instead, Cornett teamed up with the town's administrator and the hotels themselves to create an improvement plan.
Now, the chief makes a new admission.
"I don't think those efforts are working," he said. "We can continue to go in there and arrest people, but there's got to be some other difference that comes in. We can't arrest our way out of a situation like this."
He said it's time for everyone to come back to the table to figure something out.
The assistant manager at Travelers Inn told WIS the crime comes and goes, and he said they can't prevent it, but they act immediately and aggressively when they spot it.
A manager at the other hotel said he didn't have anything to say and that WIS should contact Springdale Police.
On Monday, WIS knocked on about a dozen doors and talked to numerous people who live in nice houses, with well-maintained yards, in a big subdivision behind the hotels.
Most wouldn't share their feelings on-camera because they're scared and fear retaliation. However, they all clearly said they don't like the hotels. They said something has to change.