Billings is the largest city in Montana, with approximately 103,000 residents. Prostitution has been a persistent and visible problem in the area for decades. In an effort to identify and deter potential sex buyers, the Billings Police Department began conducting routine street-level reverse stings in the mid- to late-1980s. The strategy was largely successful, and was credited as a critical factor in the revitalization of the city’s downtown area in the 1990s. More recently (2013), concern has been expressed about an increase in all kinds of crime, including prostitution, due to the Bakken oil boom. In August, 2013, the Billings Police Department announced that 25 people had been arrested for soliciting prostitution from an undercover officer. The operation was conducted by the City County Special Investigations Unit over a two week pwriod. The CCSIU is made up of Billings Police and Yellowstone County Sheriff’s deputies.
City officials and community members have noted an upsurge in web and storefront solicitation, suggesting some of Billings’ prostituted women (and their customers) may have moved their operations indoors and/or online. To address this shift in the market, Billings’ police have incorporated web-based reverse stings into their operations, and routinely release sex buyers’ names and photos to the media.
- Billings Police Department
- Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office
- Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Scarlet Women Are Given Time; Billings Mayor Fails to Compel Them to Get out and They Are Allowed Two Months’ Leeway,” Roundup Record, November 28 1913.
- “Prostitutes Help Law,” Spokane Spokesman-Review, August 8 1980.
- “People Pestered by Prostitutes,” Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 17 1983.
- “Police Rapped for Not Arresting Billings Prostitutes’ Customers,” Spokane Spokesman-Review, November 17 1983.
- “8 Charged with Prostitution,” Spokane Spokesman-Review, January 16 1985.
- “Gregory L. McFarland and Myong Suk McFarland Sentenced in U.S. District Court,” Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana, February 1 2012.
- “Billings Man Sentenced for Promoting Prostitution from Jail,” Ravalli Republic, June 19 2013.
- “Neighbor Describes Interactions with Prostitution Business Owners,” NBC/KULR-TV 8, August 20 2013.
- “California Man Sentenced for Prostitution-Related Racketeering Charges,” NBC/KULR-TV 8, November 6 2015.
- “California Man Admits Bringing 2 Women to Billings to Make Money on Prostitution,” Billings Gazette, March 2 2016.
- https://www.greatfallstribune.com/my-montana/prostitution-gambling-widespread-throughout Montana (2018)
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: