FOX 32 NEWS - In hotel rooms across the country, men who were trying to buy sex in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl found out their date was actually a cop.
The sting used Backpage.com, which is known as a prostitution hook up site, to place ads offering companionship. Nationwide, police arrested more than 700 johns and Cook County Sheriff's police arrested plenty themselves.
“This year we had 101 arrested, but if I devoted more people to it, I could have doubled, tripled that, but with all the violence going on in the city of Chicago, we obviously have our focus there, but this is, nonetheless, something that's very important,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Sheriff Dart said sex trafficking doesn't increase dramatically around the time of the Superbowl, but it does tend to spike in the jurisdiction hosting the big game. In Houston and surrounding Harris County, Texas, a high school principal, a college professor and a fireman were among the 250 people arrested for solicitation of prostitution.
Those arrested by the Cook County Sheriff's Police have to watch a video called John School to educate them about the real harm prostitution causes.
“I felt degraded, no value, no self worth, nasty, raped, molested,” one former prostitute related on the video.
Dart said the goal of the sting is two-fold.
“To get the prostitutes off the street and into a better, different life, as opposed to the norm, just get them off the street for 15-20 minutes, book them so they can't walk right back out. And then for the johns, to enlighten them and also in a certain sense to scare them too so there's less of them making the phone calls,” Dart said.
He said his office helped rescue three adult women from prostitution. This nationwide anti-prostitution effort was initiated by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in 2011.