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MPD working to stop payment for pleasure through waging war on prostitution

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Paying for pleasure. It’s the fast cash that leads some to the pavement.

Dipping into cars with strangers and placing a price tag on favors.

On any given night the ladies of Lamar are out, and they're pretty easy to spot. It’s the Memphis police patrol cars that are a little harder to come across.

WREG spotted only one police officer out on one particular night. The streets were clearly buzzing, but red and blue lights weren’t flashing.

"Sometimes the girls are craftier than you think. A plain clothes officer might see something the uniform officer didn’t see," said Colonel Paul Wright Jr. with the Memphis Organized Crime Unit.

Quick exchanges in the shadows after dark.

Memphis police said it takes undercover officers to catch the actions some might miss and, even though they’re hidden, they’re keeping a close eye on the nightlife.

"Last year we made 273 arrests for prostitution," added Wright Jr.

Some ask why Lamar?

The fast pace of through traffic and access to hotels and interstates makes the avenue a hangout for pimps, prostitutes and Johns.

It’s a cycle that leaves no clean hands.

"There’s no innocent person in prostitution. There’s human trafficking. Every now and again we run across a juvenile out there that we have to save," said Wright Jr.

For many, it is a search for salvation. With each encounter, with every click of their heels on the sidewalk, there’s a silent cry for help.

"I ride past the street and see people walking up and down the street. I know that look when you’re out there, and you don’t want to be there. I know that look when you’re scared to death."

It’s the resuscitation that has fueled one woman's passion for clearing the streets and bringing life to the broken dreams of lost girls.

"They come up missing everyday due to this lifestyle because there are men who ride around to beat up those women because they have targets on their back."

This woman didn’t want her identity revealed but works with Restore Corp, an organization that works to get prostitutes off of the streets. She told WREG she understands their struggle since she was once in their shoes.

"It’s only the person who has been in the tunnel that knows how to get out of the tunnel. I’ve been in the tunnel -- it look like a no light in there," she added.

"I was in that lifestyle for a long time, and that person terrorized my life for years."

She said it's not easy to just step away and that's why she made it her mission to lend a hand.

"Sometimes they be feeling like they dead. I know that feeling. But to see them come to life, that’s amazing."

To take them away from dancing with the darkness has become her life’s mission. As she marches towards better days, she hopes more women will find the strength to join the charge.