Arlington, TX

Tactics Used

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

Arlington is a city within the Dallas-Fort Worth  Metroplex (DFW) in the state of Texas. It is located within Tarrant County and has an estimated population of 391,443 residents. The city has a history of substantial prostitution activity within the city, and had spent decades arresting prostitued persons to no measurable benefit.  In 1990, the Arlington Police Department began focusing on demand by conducting periodic reverse stings.  In 2006, the Arlington Police Department conducted a systematic study of prostitution in the city, and of methods of combating it.  The study led to recommendations for action, and a plan was formed that was known collectively as “Operation Spotlight.”  This was a comprehensive approach to address supply, distribution, and demand for commercial sex.  The demand component focused on intensified reverse stings.  The Arlington Police Department had a small Vice Unit with only one female at the time, limiting their ability to conduct large-scale reverse stings.  This capacity was bolstered by selecting several female patrol officers and training them in prostitution decoy operations. Patrol units from the force assisted in the planning and support of undercover operations. From December 2006 to March 2007, a total of 220 arrests for prostitution were made along the Division Street and Watson Road corridor (Ayala and White, 2008).  Once arrested, johns had their names posted to the APD’s official website, and press releases were provided to the media.  In addition, “Dear John” postcards were sent to the home addresses of arrestees, to discourage the men from reoffending and alert others in the home that the individual was allegedly engaged in high-risk behavior.  Civilian patrols were also formed that would record apparent “cruising” behavior of potential johns, and forward the information to police. SOAP orders were also established, prohibiting johns from entering certain parts of the city known for high levels of street prostitution.

While Operation Spotlight lasted just under two years, a similar anti-prostitution initiative (dubbed the “You Never Know” Campaign) soon followed. The APD continues to use many demand-driven tactics on an “as needed” basis, whether it be in response to community complaints or in preparation for an influx of tourists and visitors (e.g. the 2011 Super Bowl).

Key Partners


  • Arlington Police Department


Key Sources

State Texas
Type City
Population 391443
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