Crackdown on prostitution in Bush River area of Columbia
(Columbia) July 8, 2003 - Bush River Road is a thriving commercial area. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says there's one sort of business on the 500 block who's growth is not welcomed, "These places and people are suffering because of what's going on."
Sheriff Lott says prostitution is on the rise in the area, "You've got the ladies who walk the sidewalks who are prostitutes and the Johns know what to look for." Lott says what's attracting them is the combination of businesses. There are two strip clubs and several motels, "We've got the men who go to the strip clubs who get all hot and bothered. Then they come out and the streetwalkers are here to take care of them."
The activity has law enforcement going undercover. Most local businesses, like Jermaine Samuel at Frank's Car Wash, are supportive, "My concern is the people getting hurt. Cars coming up and down the road, people might get hit by a car. All kinds of safety concerns."
It's not just business people who are concerned. Billy Grubbs has lived in the area for more than 40 years. He's heard stories about prostitutes nearby, "Well, I just don't care for that type of thing at all." Grubbs says he'd like to walk more on Bush River, but won't because of what goes on there, "I don't care to walk around in a situation like that. All kinds of people might go there and they do and that's not something we like to be exposed to."
The sheriff's department has arrested more than 20 people for soliciting prostitution since May. The department continues to have deputies, men and women, working undercover to make more arrests.