Bessemer, AL

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Bessemer is a southwestern suburb of Birmingham in Jefferson County, AL, and has a population of roughly 27,000 residents. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking of adults and minors. For example, in October of 2020, two men – including one from Jefferson County – were arrested and charged with human trafficking after a law enforcement operation at a local hotel. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Vice and Narcotics Unit teamed up with other law enforcement agencies – including the Bessemer Police Department, FBI, Fultondale Police Department, Trussville Police Department, and Gardendale Police Department. One offender was charged with second-degree human trafficking, trafficking in stolen identities, and possession of a forged instrument. The second offender was charged with second-degree human trafficking, possession of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, possession of marijuana, and certain persons forbidden to possess a firearm. Both of the arrested traffickers had their identities and images released by authorities. Additionally, 13 individuals were arrested on charges of prostitution. Authorities did not release their names, but all were booked into the Jefferson County Jail.

In effort to reduce instances of prostitution and sex trafficking, various demand reduction tactics have been deployed such as web-based reverse stings, identity disclosure, and sex buyer arrests. For example, in 1982, as a result of an anonymous tip to police, an investigation into a local church and the “bishop” was conducted. According to reports, a man who called himself the “bishop” had been using a church, St. Paul’s Spiritual Church, as a front for a brothel for a period of six months. In addition, the IRS had no record of an official listing for a church under that name and address. As a result of the undercover investigation, while an additional suspect was being questioned by officials, the “bishop” left the city to avoid arrest.

In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Bessemer Police Department reported that beginning in 2019, they have implemented public education specifically addressing demand, and community service for arrested sex buyers. 

Key Sources

2021 National Assessment II Survey

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Region:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests:

State Alabama
Type City
Population 26680
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