Central Falls, RI

Tactics Used

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

Central Falls is a small city of approximately 22,000 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 individuals 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.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Neighborhood Action:

Community Service:

Background on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in the Area:

State Rhode Island
Type City
Population 22464
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