Broward County, FL

Tactics Used

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

Broward County has a population of about 2,000,000 residents and is located on the southeastern coast of Florida. Its county seat and largest city is Fort Lauderdale. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been persistent and well-documented problems in the county for decades. Prostitution-related homicides have also occurred in the county. Among the ways in which local officials have attempted to combat such problems  has been the use of demand reduction tactics.  Since 1976, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office has conducted street-level prostitution stings using undercover police officers posing as prostituted women. The details of the operations and arrests are not always shared by law enforcement with the media, but have done so since 1980 and consistently since the year 2015. Community complaints help to spur police to conduct prostitution and sex trafficking operations, including SOAP Orders, Dear John Letters, vehicle seizures, and cameras. SOAP Orders were first implemented in Fort Lauderdale in the year 1995 and were proposed in Hollywood in 1997. However, SOAP Orders were not enacted in Hollywood and Dania Beach until the year 2000. Additionally, all the Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale police departments have been known to send ‘Dear John’ letters to the residences of arrested sex buyers. For example, the Hollywood Police first deployed letters as a demand reduction tactic in the year 1997, sending over over 120 letters to arrested sex buyers’ residences in 1997 alone. Fort Lauderdale similarly deployed letters as a demand reduction tactic in 1999. Police began seizing the vehicles of arrested sex buyers in Hollywood in 1997 and in Dania Beach in the year 1999. Although no formal ordinance has been established,  Fort Lauderdale police have been known to similarly seize and impound the vehicles of arrested sex buyers. Additionally, Fort Lauderdale police and Hollywood police have been known to use cameras during investigations targeting sex buyers.

Disclosing the identities to the public and loss of employment are additional consequences of buying sex that have been imposed within the county. For example, in 2012, a former Broward sheriff’s deputy was fired after being arrested at a motel during a prostitution sting conducted by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, for allegedly trying to arrange a threesome with an undercover officer. Detectives mounted the sting operation by placing an online escort ad that offered a “two-girl special,” in addition to price rates and a telephone number. The sex buyer first spoke by phone with the undercover officer who told him a 30-minute session would cost $60, but he negotiated a deal for two women for $100. The former deputy arrived at the motel and was arrested after paying the undercover female officer $100. The sex buyer was initially suspended for six months, but was officially fired in November of 2012 after being convicted of the charge against him, misdemeanor soliciting prostitution. The sex buyer’s identity was included in reports from local news sources.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has been conducting street-level reverse stings since 1976, if not earlier. For example, in 1979, the BCSO conducted a reverse sting operation focused on arresting male sex buyers, but instead of using undercover female officers, the BCSO had five male officers dressed as prostituted women conduct the operation. ‘Operation Switch Hit’ was the first time in Florida that any agency had used male officers dressed as prostituted women to conduct a reverse sting rather than using undercover female officers. The operation resulted in the arrest of 10 male sex buyers for soliciting prostitution. In October of 2017, police announced the arrest of eight male sex buyers rounded up during a “high visibility enforcement operation to combat prostitution activities in the City of Fort Lauderdale.” The men’s identities were publicly disclosed. According to police reports, undercover officers were solicited for oral sex ranging from $20 to $50, in addition to sex for $24 to $50 along corridors well-known for having high levels of prostitution activity.

In addition to street-level reverse stings, the BCSO has also conducted web-based stings. For example, in 2014, the Broward Sheriff’s Department Internet Crimes Against Children task force conducted an online sting focused on targeting individuals seeking to sexually exploit children in exchange for money. Investigators said the suspects chatted online with what they thought were teenage boys. The suspects traveled to meet with who they thought were teenage boys, but instead met undercover detectives. The investigation resulted in the arrest of four men on charges of traveling to meet minors and in some cases, men were also charged with soliciting a minor online. In 2021, the BCSO Internet Crimes Against Children task force conducted a similar online investigation that resulted in the arrest of a Fort Lauderdale police officer. According to reports, detectives received information from a Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Taskforce regarding a police officer in Fort Lauderdale engaging in online chats with who he believed was a minor. The offender had engaged in sexual conversations with an undercover detective who he believed was a minor female. Upon locating the offender, officials learned that he was currently working special security details at St. Anthony Catholic School and Cardinal Gibbons High School, where he is also a wrestling coach. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department immediately placed the offender on administrative leave without pay as a result of his arrest.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Community Service:

Cameras:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Loss of Employment for Arrested Sex Buyers:

State Florida
Type County
Population 1953000
Location
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