Birmingham, AL

Tactics Used

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

Birmingham is the capitol of Alabama and the state’s largest city, with a population of about 1,125,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well documented in the city, as are associated serious crimes.  For example, there have been local cases of child sex trafficking, prostituted women being targeted by serial killers, and of johns being robbed and murdered. Police responses to commercial sex are often driven in part from complaints from businesses and residents in the community.

Birmingham police have conducted many prostitution sweeps throughout the years, capturing from a few to 130 men in reverse stings using undercover female police officers. The first known reverse sting in the city was conducted in 1987.  Many of these operations have occurred in two areas of the city known to be frequented by prostituted women and johns.  Web-based reverse stings using craigslist and backpage.com have been conducted.  In 2007, a shaming campaign was conducted in which pictures of convicted prostituted persons and their customers are broadcast on a local access cable channel. The Birmingham Police Department also teams with local nonprofits such as WellHouse which provides programs and support for women involved in prostitution and human trafficking.

In April 2010, the Birmingham Police Department has announced that eight suspects have been charged after a BPD Vice Unit reverse sting in the 5000 block of 1st Avenue North on Thursday April 22, 2010.  The suspects were identified in local news articles.

In March 2012 the Birmingham Police Department conducted an undercover sting operation this week to crack down on prostitution in the Woodlawn area of north Birmingham. Narcotics officers went undercover to get prostitutes and johns off the street. They focused on the area of 1st Avenue North between 41st Street and 80th Street.  Over the three day sting, police arrested 35 people. Some of the charges include prostitution and a few suspects were picked up on felony charges. Police say they’ve received numerous complaints from citizens, and that they arrested more johns than prostitutes.

In April 2012, a prostitution sting resulted in four arrests throughout the Birmingham area. The operation targeted prostitutes who were advertising their services on craigslist.com and backpage.com. Undercover officers arranged to meet them and made the arrests for offering to engage in sex for money.  Prostitution and solicitation are misdemeanors in state law. If convicted, these people can face up to one year in jail and pay a fine.

In 2014, Birmingham police arrested seven suspects on prostitution-related charges in a bust at the VIP Spa in Roebuck.  Birmingham Vice and Narcotics officers served a search warrant at the VIP Spa Wednesday morning and found four women and three male customers inside. Birmingham police released the names and charges against the seven suspects arrested.

In 2018, several reverse stings were conducted in northern Shelby County along the U.S. 280 corridor, which crosses the county and leads directly into adjacent Jefferson County and the city of Birmingham.  These “Operation Close Out” reverse stings occurred in September and October of 2018, carried out by the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force.  In the first, 11 men were arrested, and the men’s identities included in news releases. In the October 2018 operation, nine men were arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution. The suspects were from Birmingham, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Kentucky and Tennessee.

 

 

Key Partners

  • Birmingham Police Department

Key Sources

 

State Alabama
Type City
Population 212157
Location
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