Central Falls is a small city of approximately 20,000 residents, located in the northern suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island. Historically, much of the prostitution activity in the city was concentrated on and along Barton Street. As the street continues into the neighboring city of Pawtucket, and much of the illegal activity has traditionally “spilled” across the cities’ borders, the Central Falls Police Department and Pawtucket Police Department have frequently coordinated efforts.
The CFPD began conducting street-level reverse stings in response to residents’ reports of an increase in prostitution activity in the Barton Street area in 1991. Once it became apparent that Pawtucket police had adopted a similarly demand-driven approach, the two cities collaborated to conduct a series of joint john stings in the early 1990s. The operations often spanned 1-2 days, and involved concurrent decoy stings on either side of the Barton Street line. As the city and its police force is relatively small, the CFPD has at times “borrowed” officers from neighboring departments (such as Lincoln, Cranston and East Providence) to pose as decoys to avoid recognition when operating undercover. Recent examples include reversals in both September 2013 and September 2014, each of which netted seven johns. When asked about the latter operation, a CFPD detective commented ““we try to do the [them] every few months… We try to keep people on their toes.”
In September 2016 police arrested 13 men in Pawtucket and Central Falls during a reverse sting that were charged with a procurement of sexual conduct for a fee. Three other men were charged with soliciting from a motor vehicle for indecent purposes, and their identities were publicized. In June 2018, a reverse sting resulted in the arrest of 17 sex buyers in Central Falls. In November 2018, the Pawtucket and Central Falls Police Departments arrested sex sex buyers in a joint prostitution sting in the area of Broad Street, in response to numerous complaints from local business owners, residents, motorists and pedestrians.
The CFPD also routinely releases arrestees’ names and other identifying information to the local media. If johns attempt to solicit sex from a vehicle, the CFPD reserves the right to seize and impound the offender’s car. Central Falls is also one of a small number of communities in the U.S. that will suspend an arrestees’ driver’s license; this penalty is meted out by the courts on a “case by case” basis.
- Street-Level Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- “Police Arrest 24 on Prostitution Charges”, Providence Journal, May 7 1991.
- “Ex-Policewoman Plays the Leading Role in Sequel to Anti-Prostitution Operation”, Providence Journal, June 24 1991.
- “Police Charge 30 Men in 2nd Central Falls Prostitution Sting”, Providence Journal, June 25 1991.
- “Decoy Officer Used to Seize 3”, Providence Journal, December 13 1991.
- “16 Arrested in Sting Aimed at Prostitution; Eight Men and Eight Women Are Charged in an Operation Staged by Pawtucket and Central Falls Police”, Providence Journal, September 11 1998.
- “Police Chief Has Message for Men Soliciting Prostitutes”, Providence Journal, June 15 1999.
- “Seven Men Charged in Prostitution Sting”, Providence Journal, February 23 2001.
- “20 Men Face Charges in Prostitution Sting”, Providence Journal, June 10 2003.
- “7 Charged in Central Falls Prostitution Sting”, Providence Journal, October 20 2003.
- “12 Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Providence Journal, August 1 2008.
- “Five Men Arrested in Central Falls Prostitution Sting”, Providence Journal, August 27 2010.
- “VIDEO: Central Falls John Sting”, CBS/WPRI-TV 12, August 27 2010.
- “15 Arrests in Central Falls Prostitution Sting”, ABC/WLNE-TV 6, July 14 2012.
- “7 Arrested in Central Falls Prostitution Sting”, NBC/WJAR-TV 10, September 7 2013.
- “Central Falls ‘John’ Sting Nets 7 Men”, Providence Journal, September 11 2014.
- “Central Falls Prostitution Sting Yields Seven Arrests”, NBC/WJAR-TV 10, September 11 2014.
- “Seekonk Man Arrested in RI Prostitution Sting,” Seekonk Sun Chronicle, May 21 2015.
- “John Sting Nets 5 Solicitation Suspects,” CBS/WPRI-TV 12, June 4 2015.
- “8 Arrested in Central Falls Prostitution Sting,” NBC/WHDH-TV 7, August 27 2015.
- https://www.necn.com/news/new-england/21-Arrested-in-Prostitution-Sting-in-Rhode-Island (2016)
- http://www.providencejournal.com/news/seventeen-arrested-in-central-falls-prostitution-sting (June 2018)
- https://turnto10.com/news/local/police-12-arrested-in-prostitution-sting (November 2018)
- http://www.providencejournal.com/news/prostitution-sweep-in-pawtucket-central-falls-nets-6-women-6-men (2018)
- https://www.wpri.com/news/local-news/blackstone-valley/police-arrest-12-in-broad-street-prostitution-sting (2018)
- http://www.abc6.com/story/39450894/police-arrest-12-in-prostitution-sting (2018)
- Neighborhood Action:
- Community Service:
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Calling Card Tips Off Central Falls Police to Alleged Brothel”, Providence Journal, March 3 2011.
- “2 Arrested in Raid on Suspected Brothel in Central Falls”, Providence Journal, May 26 2011.