INDIANAPOLIS -- Undercover officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's southeast district and the vice unit were part of a sting operation Wednesday, focusing on prostitution in the city.
Police were on the city's east side, a known problem area for sex crimes.
"We're doing both sides of it," IMPD Lt. Daniel Green said. "Not just the prostitutes, but we're also looking at stopping the johns."
For the prostitutes, it wasn't just about the arrests.
"You can't arrest your way out of all the problems and illness," Green said. "We have a major narcotics problem involving heroin in this city, and we have to look at crime contextually -- the neighborhoods it happens in, and the problems that go with it, like mental health."
Mental health was a big focus of the operation. Police are using a behavioral health unit to try to deal with some of the root causes of the problem.
"It's a topic whose time has come," Green said. "In America, we didn't always treat mental health like we should, and definitely not in the police profession. But Indianapolis is at the forefront of understanding the nexus between mental health and crime. We feel you have to deal with both simultaneously to have a lasting impact."
Police say they're going to continue operations just like this one over the next couple of weeks and months.