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32 arrested in 3-day child solicitation sting in Johnson County

Johnson County Jail.JPG
Posted at 3:18 PM, Apr 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-23 10:50:36-04

JOHNSON COUNTY — Police arrested 32 people during a three-day child solicitation investigation in Johnson County.

Officers with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, Franklin Police Department and Edinburgh Police Department initiated the investigation on April 18, according to a press release issued on Friday.

"We don't even want this kind of activity in Johnson County. We don't even want people to plan on doing this," Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess said. "Stay out of Johnson County. I can guarantee the prosecutor's office is going to give the strictest sentence they can get out of these types of crimes."

This month's sting was the fifth joint investigation conducted by the Johnson County Sheriff's Office and the Franklin Police Department since 2020.

"We truly appreciate our inter-agency partnership with our local agencies," Franklin Police Dept. Chief Kirby Cochran said. "Together we are dedicated to protecting our youth and our community from these ruthless predators. We will continue to partner and work tirelessly to bring these folks to justice. The protection of our youth in our communities is paramount and our continued commitment to these operations will not waiver."

According to police, 81 total suspects have been arrested in connection with child solicitation stings since December 2020.

"When we do get into the operation part of it, and they're coming to meet [the kids], sometimes they'll say 'it sounds like this might be a sting operation.' But they continue to come. They'll look around. They'll drive through the complex, home or motel. They'll ask if they're the cops," Burgess said.

Johnson County is not planning on stopping their stings anytime soon as they are committed to protecting the youth.

“We are committed to protecting the children of our county by putting a stop to the sick and perverted practice of soliciting children for sex,” Prosecutor Hamner said.

Police say the best thing parents can do is talk to their children about the dangerous people that might be out there. Educate them about stranger danger and the incidents that are occurring.

"For the safety of your child, you need to have that conversation. It might be awkward, but let them know," Burgess said. "Go in there with facts and tell them this is occurring. Sometimes kids go missing. Sometimes kids aren't found. You need to know what sites they are visiting."