Aurora, CO

Tactics Used

Buyer Arrests
Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Aurora is a city with about 370,000 residents located immediately east of Denver, Colorado. The City of Aurora is a Home Rule Municipality located in Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas counties. Parts of the city have been well-known for outdoor prostitution “stroll.” Prostitution and associated street crime and blight have been concentrated on Colfax Avenue, which runs through both Aurora and Denver. Several serial killers specifically targeting prostituted women operated in the city from the 1970s through 1990s. Other prostitution-related deaths include a sex buyer who was killed by police when resisting arrest during a sting operation.

Among the efforts to address problems associated with the local commercial sex market have been efforts to combat demand. Reverse stings have been conducted since at least 1988, many of them joint operations with the Denver and Aurora Police Departments. Police began publicizing the identities of arrested sex buyers in 1995, by taking out ad space in the weekly Aurora Sentinel. The city sent police officers to San Francisco in 1997 to investigate the feasibility of starting a john school similar to the First Offender Prostitution Program, but it was never established (although Denver has had a john school since 1999). Some men arrested for buying sex have been placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.

Web-based reverse stings have occurred since at least 2016, especially focused on apprehending those seeking to buy sex with children. For example, in June 2016, Aurora police arrested seven men during a web-based undercover child sex trafficking sting. Each man was arrested on suspicion of soliciting for child prostitution and for criminal attempt to commit patronizing a prostituted child, and faced sentences of four to 12 years in prison, in addition to being required to register as sex offenders if convicted. The men’s identities were posted on the police department’s Facebook page. All seven were booked into the Arapahoe County Jail. In April 2021, Aurora police announced the arrest of 10 men on “child prostitution” charges following a two-day sting operation that month. Police partnered with Homeland Security Investigations and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to coordinate an online operation intended to target people who were attempting to buy access to sexually abuse children. The suspects were each charged with at least one felony count of patronizing a prostituted child, soliciting for child prostitution or criminal attempt. All of the men were scheduled to be prosecuted in Aurora’s 18th Judicial District.

Cameras have also been used to gather evidence used to prosecute sex buyers. For example, in 2012 a news report discussed how Aurora police used cameras on Colfax Avenue to capture evidence of purchasing sex. In 2017, the body camera of a code enforcement officer in Aurora captured two separate exchanges in which the officer tried to purchase sex from women in prostitution; the man pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting prostitution, a Class 3 misdemeanor, in Arapahoe County court and was sentenced to six months probation and 60 hours of community service in the case.

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the city. For example, in March, 2017, an Aurora Police Department code enforcement officer resigned after he recorded himself soliciting two prostituting women. The man pleaded guilty on to one count of soliciting prostitution, a Class 3 misdemeanor. Arapahoe County prosecutors said he was sentenced to six months probation and 60 hours of community service in the case. He was wearing a body camera as part of a testing phase Aurora code enforcement officers when a supervisor, watching the officer’s footage, spotted the solicitations. According to Aurora police records, the recordings, from Dec. 28, 2016, captured the officer calling a woman whose number he had gotten online and asking her the “donation price” for sex. Investigators say he then called another woman and asked what her donation price was. “Donation” is common terminology that escorts/prostituted persons use in an effort to avoid prosecution but refers to money in exchange for sex. A body camera turned the tables on an Aurora code enforcement officer who was forced to resign from his job after the camera on him recorded him soliciting prostitutes.

Key Partners

  • Aurora Police Department 
  • Denver Police Department
  • FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Colorado Bureau of Investigation
  • Aurora’s 18th Judicial District
  • Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Shaming:

Cameras:

Community Service:

Sex Buyer Fired or Resigned Due to Arrest:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Colorado
Type City
Population 369111
Location
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