ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A Northeast Florida detective faces some serious charges. Palatka Police Department Detective Reno Fells was arrested during a prostitution sting in St. Johns County. The local officer was one of 14 people picked up during the sting dubbed “Operation Summer Lovin’.”
Officials say the men and women they booked into jail ranged in age from 19 all the way to 57.
Neighbors and friends of Fells were shocked to learn he was arrested during a prostitution sting. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Augustine Police Department planned the prostitution sting for one reason.
“We received numerous complaints from the hotel owners and the managers in reference to solicitation and prostitution and rooms being used for solicitation of or procurement of,” said St. Augustine Police Chief Robert Hardwick.
St. Johns County Sheriff John Shoar says officials also arrested Lemuel Jackson, who has a dangerous past.
“He has a history, a criminal history including homicide, abduction, all kinds of things. I think sexual battery,” said Shoar.
Palatka Police Department Assistant Chief James Griffith says the department is disappointed this happened and that officials accepted Fells’ resignation on Sunday.
“These types of situations, I wouldn’t think they reflect on the department as a whole. We have good people that work here, but unfortunately one of ours made a mistake, and we have to keep going and moving ahead,” said Griffith.
Fells is also minister at Grace and Truth Deliverance Ministries, in Palatka. Action News spoke to his mother, Dr. Cora B. Fells, the senior pastor of the church, who says her son has already talked to church leaders.
“He confessed and he talked to the saints, and they forgave him and they’re supporting him and standing by his side because they love him, and it’s just something that happened,” said Fells.
Reno Fells bonded out and resigned from his position with the Police Department on Sunday. As for his other job, his mother says he needs to take time off from the church- but is welcome to return at any time.
“He’s a good man- He’s a respectful man, he’s a responsible man, and it’s just something he got caught up in,” said Fells.
Operation Summer Lovin’ was so successful at catching all of these people that officials are planning more prostitution stings later this year.