Nashville Metro police spent almost $120,000 over three years to foster encounters between confidential informants and prostitutes to crack down on the illicit sex trade, reports the Tennessean. Confidential informants pocketed more than $70,000 of that, with the rest going to providers of sexual services. The Police Department stands behind the controversial practice of paying informants to touch and be touched – and sometimes go further – while gathering evidence.
The county’s top prosecutor says it is unnecessary and raises a host of legal and ethical issues. “Certainly, having video and audiotapes of the transactions is valuable,” said Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson. “But going beyond that once the transaction has been completed is unnecessary from our point of view and is a little contradictory in letting the confidential informant engage in the very act you’re trying to stamp out.” Officials said it has become increasingly difficult even to engage in conversation about prostitution at a business under suspicion without being nude. “What’s the greater good?” asked Capt. Todd Henry. “It may be distasteful to some people, but it’s better that we have those places shut down.” Since April 2002, the city has used anti-nuisance laws to close more than 35 businesses believed to be selling sex, including massage parlors, spas and adult bookstores.