CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - Neighbors in the East Gateway area of Clearwater expressed relief Sunday after 15 people were arrested during a two-day prostitution bust.
Clearwater police arrested seven women on prostitution charges Thursday night. One night later eight men were arrested and accused of trying to pay undercover police officers for sex.
"The bottom line is we don't like to see this type of activity occur anywhere in Clearwater," said Rob Shaw, spokesperson for the Clearwater Police Department. "That area is more chronic for it than others and so anytime you have an area that maybe has a more prevalent type of activity, you want to put your foot on it and get rid of it."
Clearwater Police said the department is involved in an ongoing effort to crack down on the crimes that occur in the area boardered by Missouri and Highland Avenue, and Drew and Court Streets.
Police have received several complaints about the issue from residents and business owners.
"I called three times in a span of two months," said Shawn Walker, who has lived in the East Gateway community for eight months. "I was shocked. It was a good shock, but I definitely was shocked that something was actually being done."
Officers wouldn't say whether they'll make more arrests, but neighbors hope this is just the beginning.
"Heck yeah. Keep them off the streets," said Richard Judson, who just moved to the neighborhood.
"It hurts your property values, it hurts resale values, stuff like that. Nobody wants that in their neighborhood," Walker said. "It's fantastic. It makes me feel as a taxpayer on this property that someone's listening because sometimes a lot of our requests feel like they're falling on deaf ears."
Police said there were also several other arrests for non-prostitution charges. Those include trespass after warning, violation of probation, tampering with evidence and possession of a controlled substance.
Those arrested on prostitution-related charges are:
Tera Humber, 4-6-78
Lauren McGuinness, 1-23-83
Joni Puma, 7-19-85
Britney Lightfoot, 5-1-80
Teresa Bond, 1-31-68
Marcy Nachman, 5-23-75
Felecia Haslett, 2-21-66
Michael Rayner, 3-27-64
Paul Gibbons, 10-5-58
Matthew Geist, 2-27-73
Jeffrey Mitchell, 7-27-56
Juan Gonzalez, 6-24-57
Michael Benjamin, 8-31-58
William Browning, 10-25-70
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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