Bergen County, NJ

Tactics Used

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

Bergen County is the most populous county in the state of New Jersey, with an estimated population of roughly 950,000.  The county is located within 10 miles of Midtown Manhattan. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the area, and have generated complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Notable cities and towns in the county that have had serious problems associated with prostitution and sex trafficking include East Rutherford, Paramus, South Hackensack, and Fort Lee.  Sex trafficking of minors has also been documented locally, as have cases of sex sellers being raped. At least one serial killer of prostituted women has operated within Bergen County.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. To identify and apprehend sex buyers Bergen County law enforcement agencies have conducted reverse stings. For example, the South Hackensack Police Department conducted street-level reverse stings in 1997 and 2004. Both operations sent female law enforcement officers undercover as decoys to walk along “troubled” stretches of the Route, and apprehended men as they solicited sex from the officers. While local media outlets publicized the names of those arrested, it is unclear whether or not the information was formally released by the SHPD. In 2004, media outlets reported that Bergen County Sheriff’s Office deputies had completed stings across the county targeting both johns and those selling sex. The stings included operations staged in Paramus. In 2013, an adult john was arrested in the city after corresponding online and arranging to meet with what he thought was a 15-year-old female (but was, in fact, a law enforcement officer working undercover) to “have sex with him in exchange for money.” The man’s name and arrest photo was released to the public. In the timeframe around the Super Bowl in February 2014, agencies in the region collaborated on a number of stings and reverse stings. The FBI was among partners in a Super Bowl sex trafficking task force set up by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office after it was announced that the game would be held in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Soon after the announcement New Jersey officials began training law enforcement personnel, hospitality workers, high school students, airport employees and others to recognize and respond to signs of sex trafficking.

Key Partners

  • Bergen County Sheriff’s Office
  • Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Paramus Police Department
  • South Hackensack Police Department
  • Teaneck Police Department
  • FBI
  • New Jersey Attorney General’s Office

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

 

State New Jersey
Type County
Population 948406
Location
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