Chattanooga, TN

Tactics Used

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

Chattanooga is a city of approximately 170,000 residents, located in Hamilton County in southeastern Tennessee. Prostitution has been identified as a problem in the city for decades. The city has also documented cases of sex trafficking and the targeted assault and murder of women selling sex.

To address these issues, the Chattanooga Police Department and local community members have used a number of tactics designed to reduce demand for prostitution.  The first street-level reverse sting known to have occurred in Chattanooga was conducted in 1985; CPD officers have been conducting web-based reversals since at least 2007.  Arrestees’ names are routinely released to the public, and have been publicized in local media outlets since the 1980s.  For example, in May 2018 Chattanooga police arrested six men during a street-level a reverse sting conducted at several addresses in the East lake area, and the identities of the men were included in news coverage.  In December, 2020, a web-based reverse sting was conducted that involved detectives posting decoy ads online that offered sex with a minor.  Fourteen men were arrested and charged with sex trafficking offenses, and their identities released to the pubic.

Patronizing prostitution is a class A misdemeanor in Tennessee, and if convicted, the men could  face up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or fines up to $2,500.

In addition, individuals arrested for buying sex have been required to perform community service. Surveillance cameras have also been used as a deterrent.  Neighborhood activists have targets sex buyers. In the early 2000s, a website called “Trick the Johns” was created by residents of a neighborhood in the Main Street area after they reported a spike in street prostitution in the area.  The website was active through at least 2008, but is no longer.

Key Partners

  • Chattanooga Police Department
  • Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Neighborhood groups

Key Sources

State Tennessee
Type City
Population 169884
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