Prostitution Sting Leads To Firefighter Arrest

YORK CO., SC — A prostitution sting landed a local firefighter in jail.

Detectives arrested Thomas Pickard, 52, Friday morning.

They say the arrest happened at a hotel or motel on Carowinds Blvd.

They would not be specific about which location because they don’t want people to know where they conduct stings.

The accusations of paying for sex are against a man whose job is to protect people in Indian Land and Lancaster County.

“He supposed to be protecting us at all times,” said one resident, Yazzmyn Dakeen-Ali.

Pickard is the Fire Chief of Indian Land Volunteer Fire and a Lieutenant for Lancaster County Fire.

He was one of seven people arrested in a prostitution sting.

Detectives said undercover investigators posed as prostitutes.

Commander of the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit Marvin Brown says the operation was an effort to deter sex and human trafficking.

“The average age of human trafficking victim is 12 to 14 years old,” said Ashley Harkrader. Harkrader is a victim advocate. “The women and children that we come across and working with the victims and survivors, they did not choose this life.”

She says johns are well aware that the people they pay for sex could be victims of trafficking.

“They are men of stature. They are men who have power. They are men in position, and they should know better, and they are fueling the demand that’s keeping this going,” said Harkrader.

Deputies say accusations against Pickard went public when someone reported him missing around two friday morning.

Deputies drove around, started checking hospitals and jails and say they found him locked up, accused of prostitution.

Lancaster County Fire Rescue says the firefighter is on unpaid leave until a personnel investigation is conducted.