Akron, OH

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Akron is a city of approximately 200,000 residents, located south of Cleveland in Summit County, Ohio. Situated at the crossroads of Interstate 76 and 77, the city has struggled with chronic prostitution and sex trafficking activity along major roadways for decades. To address the issue, the Akron Police Department has adopted an aggressive approach to identify and apprehend sex buyers. Officers began conducting street-level reverse stings in the mid-1980s, using one or more undercover female officers as decoys. Operations are now routinely conducted, resulting in an average of 300 prostitution-related arrests per year. As of 1986, Akron police may seize and impound an john’s vehicle, depending upon the circumstances of the arrest.

In 1994, the APD also began posting arrestees’ names and other identifying information to the department’s website, in the hopes of deterring other would-be offenders. In 2004, the Akron Police Department began posting information about arrested buyers in its “Operation John-B-Gone” list on its Web site. The online program, which targets convicted prostitutes and their customers, began early this year and includes the person’s photograph, name, age, address and conviction.

City law enforcement has emphasized the importance of community self-policing, and has frequently pursued tips from local residents about suspected prostitution activity. Citizens, for their part, have responded by establishing several successful neighborhood watch programs. While the majority have focused on increased engagement with police and civic leaders, others like the East Akron Community House, who instituted a “court watch” initiative in the 1980s to monitor solicitor’s convictions, have targeted demand directly.

While Akron has not had a formal john school program, arrested sex buyers have sometimes been offered a “diversion program” that addresses similar issues.  For example, at least one john was provided the opportunity to pay a $175 fee and take five 90-minute classes on topics such as court processes, the impact of crime on victims, decision-making skills, anger management, and substance abuse.  We have not classified this as a john school because it is a generic course designed as a diversion option for all “low-level” criminals, and does not contain any content designed to specifically address sex-buying, prostitution, or human trafficking.  Moreover, the City Council recently made the diversion inaccessible to arrested sex buyers, as the program was considered to be a means of avoiding punishment.

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State Ohio
Type City
Population 207934
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