Sumter County, SC

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Sumter County is located in South Carolina, with a population of approximately 105,000 residents. Its county seat is Sumter. Prostitution has been a well-documented problem within the county for several decades, often generating numerous complaints to police from local residents. Among the tactics used to address such problems have been those focusing on the sex buyers.  Reverse stings have been conducted in the city of Sumter since 1983, and have continued up to the present day. There have also been several incidences of violence and murder of both sex buyers and sexually exploited persons.

In July 2002, a 40-year-old Sumter woman was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds on the side of the road in what the local press referred to as “an apparent prostitution deal gone sour.” The suspect, who was deaf and mute, confessed to the crime through a sign language interpreter. He was charged with murder and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.

In May 2008, a 26-year-old woman turned herself into Sumter police after shooting and killing a man. Police say the woman was looking for money at the house where the shooting took place. The victim was there with a group of men. The woman’s mother told News 10 that she was there to perform a sex service on one of the men in the home when the men tried to rape her, so she pulled a gun and shot him. The victim’s wife denied that her husband was buying sex from the woman. The woman’s bond was set at $10,000. No available data on the court hearing could be found at the time of this page’s publication. Seven years later, however, in May 2015, the same woman would be charged with prostitution and possession of drugs.

In May 2010, the Sumter Police Department coordinated with officers from the Narcotics Division of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office’s (SCSO) to conduct a street-level reverse sting. The operation, which deployed several undercover female officers as decoys, was conducted in response to citizen complaints about prostitution activity in certain areas of the city. A total of nine sex buyers were arrested. The names, ages, addresses and photos of those arrested for prostitution were distributed in press releases and the local media. A similar reverse sting was conducted in February 2013, resulting in the arrest of seven sex buyers, and the photos of the arrestees were posted in local news outlets. In January 2014, police again conducted a web-based reverse sting in response to complaints from the community. The operation resulted in the arrest of 17 sex buyers. In May 2016, the SCSO arrested 14 sex buyers in what officers referred to as “Operation Smackdown.”

In May 2021, the SCSO announced that a former detention center officer was arrested on charges of solicitation of prostitution and misconduct in his work place. Deputies say they arrested the 37-year-old man, who worked at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center, when they were executing a search warrant at his home. According to investigators, the man used his position to obtain contact information for female inmates and later engaged in multiple instances of inappropriate and illegal contact after they were released on bond. The man had worked for 13 years with the South Carolina Department of Corrections before being hired at the detention center.

Key Partners

  • Sumter County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sumter Police Department

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings and Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State South Carolina
Type County
Population 104758
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