Police need community help to combat prostitute problem

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) A Rock Hill man is out of jail Friday after being arrested Thursday for prostitution.  James Mullinix was arrested in broad daylight at the corner of Flagg St. and Third Ave. North in Myrtle Beach.

According to police reports, Mullinix admitted he was "out looking for prostitutes." Mullinix was arrested and released hours later.

This incident comes less than a week following three prostitution arrests just blocks from where Mullinix was picked up.

Myrtle Beach Police Captain David Knipes said prostitution is not a bigger problem now than in previous years.  Statistics show 69 arrests relating to prostitution by the Myrtle Beach Police Department in 2011. So far in 2012, the number nears 20 arrests made in relation to prostitution.

"The problem with prostitution is it has so many tentacles that reach out into different areas.  It's not just prostitution.  These prostitutes are involved in other illegal activity or have acquaintances that are related to other illegal activity.  Whether it's drugs, armed robbery, shoplifting," Knipes said.

Jeanifer Styles, a Myrtle Beach resident lives and works blocks from Ocean Boulevard.

"This is not an area you really want to be in because it's a problem going on around here," Styles said.

Knipes said the problem does not only come from prostitutes walking the areas, but from online escort services too.

"We've always had an issue with different Internet services providing escorts that we've made arrests on also," Knipes said.

WMBF News Reporter Monique Blair talked to hotels in the areas that many of the prostitutes have been arrested recently.  None of the hotels wanted to be filmed on-camera but told WMBF the prostitution issue is hurting their business. Knipes said, the community needs to get involved in order to relieve the issue. He said anyone who calls police can remain anonymous.

"If a uniform officer is riding around in a marked car, he's not gonna see the same things the citizens the resident is going to see. They're there 24 hours a day.  If they see these things going on, they need to report it.  Until we have that information, the data to show there's a problem in a certain area, we cannot direct our resources to properly handle that problem," Knipes said.

In 2011, South Carolina State Legislature proposed to amend a bill that would sentence a person arrested for a third offense of prostitution for a maximum of five years in prison and a felony on their record.

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