Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Randall Rapier was arrested for pandering while wearing a Cartoon Network T-shirt displaying the question and answer: “What time is it? Adventure time!”
By Kathy Jefcoats
FOREST PARK — Have bike, will solicit?
A bicyclist was among nine suspects arrested Thursday afternoon during a joint operation to crack down on pandering in the north end of the county. Officers with Clayton County Police Department and Clayton County Sheriff's Office worked the undercover sting operation about four hours near I-75 and Tara Boulevard. Four female officers were planted as decoys to attract potential johns.
The command center was set up in the parking lot of a vacant shopping center — the same lot where Officer Michael Hooks was run over by a suspect last year. He is recovering and his fellow officers reminisced about the incident as they waited for pandering suspects to be brought in.
Suddenly, the mood lightened. Officers monitoring radio traffic about the ongoing operation in the field began laughing.
"On a bicycle? They've got a suspect on a bicycle," said one officer.
Information was updated that he was trying to get away. On a bicycle.
"He's trying to flee the arrest on his bicycle," another officer said.
All conversation at the processing table stopped as officers listened.
"Oh, they got him," said an officer, laughing. "They're bringing him in now."
A few minutes later, a sheriff's patrol car drove up and deputies unloaded Tyree Jammal Wright. A second unit it held Wright's bike.
Wright, 21, was one of nine suspects who allegedly took the decoy hooker bait and was charged with pandering, a misdemeanor. Clayton County police Lt. Marc Richards said he hopes the crackdown will send a message.
"Overall, the goal is to put the message out from law enforcement in Clayton County that prostitution, soliciting and pandering will not be tolerated," he said.
Prostitution is sometimes regarded as a victim-less crime — the woman appears to be a willing participant and the john chooses to approach and proposition her. However, Richards said that is far from the truth.
"Prostitution tends to attract the worse elements of society," he said. "There are drugs, weapons and gangs. And on the periphery is human trafficking. It's almost a plague sweeping the nation right now."
Thursday's operation netted suspects in a range of ages and races. One told police he is homeless, another had more than $300 in cash on him and a third suspect included what appeared to be a wedding ring in his personal belongings. Police said another suspect offered a decoy money not only for sex but for drugs.
In addition to Wright, of Forest Park, police arrested Michael Sean Shake, 37, of Stockbridge; Lawrence Karl Pope, 62, of McDonough; Randall Vaughn Rapier, 25, of Locust Grove; Hector Javier Santiago, 36, of Morrow; Jose Miguel Viera, 22, homeless; Elgin Leonard Spencer, 28, of McDonough; Arturo Garcia Jr., 22, of McDonough and LaSalle Jester, 56, of Jackson.
All were charged with pandering and spent the night in the Clayton County Jail awaiting a first appearance hearing in Clayton County Magistrate Court. Richards said he hopes the men learn a lesson.
"We're targeting the johns on the demand side," he said. "We hope the supply will dry up or move to another county."
As officers at the command post anticipated the arrival of the bicyclist, they wondered out loud about his mode of transportation — "How was he planning to transport her? Was it a bicycle built for two? Would she hop on the handle bars while he pedaled away?"
When Wright arrived, he was in no mood to discuss his end game.
"I didn't do nothing," he said. "I was minding my own business."
Hearing an officer reference his alleged escape try, he was incredulous.
"I tried to get away? I tried to get away?" said Wright. "Man, I didn't do nothing. I was just riding my bike."