Brockton, MA

Tactics Used

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

Brockton is a city of approximately 100,000 residents, located about one half hour southeast of Boston near East and West Bridgewater in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.  Prostitution and sex trafficking are longstanding, well-documented problems in the city.  Among the problems associated with city’s local commercial sex market are a serial rapist targeting Brockton’s prostituted women in the early 2000s and multiple cases of homicide of prostituted women. Young teenagers from Brockton have also been found to be victims of child sex trafficking in Boston and Providence.

Residents and business frequently complain to police about the negative effects of prostitution on the community and on them and their businesses. Referring to efforts to control prostitution by arrested women who sell sex as a “revolving door” that produces no lasting results, the city has recently attempted to combat demand.  Neighborhood watch programs formed in 1994 that focused, in part, on deterring men from buying sex.   Recent reverse stings have been driven by high-profile complaints to police by individual residents, businesses, and business organizations (Montello Business Association).  A reverse sting in July 2013, for example, resulted in the arrest of nine sex buyers.

Brockton Police have conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 1986, if not earlier. That year, the department reported to the Bangor Daily News that, although they “did not have undercover female agents to go after male customers in 1984-1985”, they had recently hired female officers and arrested 27 johns in a one-month period. While the BPD releases the identities of arrestees, not all news outlets carry them routinely. In the early 1990s, however, several media outlets cited the Brockton Enterprise’s use of shaming after an arrested john committed suicide following the publicity. This may in part account for the Brockton Enterprise‘s current position. Following an August 2012 operation, the paper noted that posting the identities and photos of arrestees was an exception to their normal practice:

“While it is not the policy of The Enterprise to regularly run the names of those charged with  prostitution or solicitation of prostitution, the newspaper believes the number of arrests this week and the  goal of the Brockton Police Department to raise awareness of this community issue warrant an exception.”
The Brockton Police Department has also reported that they use surveillance cameras in their anti-prostitution efforts, although we do not have details about specifically how these devices are used to apprehend target sex buyers.

Key Partners

  • Brockton Police Department
  • Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department
  • Plymouth County District Attorney

Key Sources

State Massachusetts
Type City
Population 93810
Location
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