Clark County, NV

Tactics Used

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

Clark County is the most populous county in Nevada, with over 2.2 million residents.  The largest share of the population lives within Las Vegas (population of approximately 600,000), but the county also includes cities such as Henderson (population of over 300,000) and unincorporated areas.  The county has been identified by federal and local law enforcement as one of the nation’s largest hubs of prostitution and sex trafficking. While prostitution is legal in Nevada’s counties with populations of 400,000 or less, it remains illegal in the two counties containing the state’s largest cities and the majority of its population–  Clark and Washoe Counties (containing Las Vegas and Reno, respectively). Numerous problems are associated with the local commercial sex market, such as HIV-positive persons continuing to sell sex after diagnosis, kidnapping and assault of sex sellers, and johns being assaulted and robbed. At the darkest end of the scale, those being sold for sex have been specifically targeted by murderers within the county.  There have also been local cases of prostitution-related child endangerment, and of pimps being murdered.

To address the issue, city police have elaborated an aggressive and comprehensive strategy to arrest and educate sex buyers, with dozens of street-level reverse stings and web stings conducted by the Las Vegas Police Department each year, and some operations in Henderson. Street-level operations typically employ one or more female officers, who pose as decoys. Similarly, to identify johns soliciting sex in print and on the web, the LVPD may post decoy advertisements in local papers and on the internet. As johns attempt to purchase sex from undercover officers, they are apprehended by police. Once arrested, the men may be subject to SOAP (or Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution) orders, barring them from entering neighborhoods in the city known for commercial sex sales. They may also have their vehicle towed, although state legislation prevents law enforcement from formally seizing it.  Additionally, the LVPD has made a concerted effort to prevent arrestees from re-offending by operating one of the largest john schools in the nation. Launched in 1997, the First Offender Prostitution Program requires that participants have no prior offenses and were arrested within city limits. If accepted, a john must pay a $450 enrollment fee. The eight-hour course, which is offered in both English and Spanish and includes presentations from law enforcement, health clinicians, and former prostituted women, offers men the opportunity to have their solicitation charges reduced to a  misdemeanor if they complete the course and avoid rearrest. Between 1997 and 2006, a total of 1,628 johns completed the course– only 3 individuals subsequently were rearrested for soliciting.

The Henderson Police Department and Clark County Sheriff’s Office have conducted investigations and arrests of sex buyers.  For example, in February 2014, the Henderson Police Department arrested a man accused of pretending to be an officer after trying to solicit sex from a massage therapist at a Henderson spa. An employee at a local spa told detectives she was giving a man a massage when he asked her for sex. After she refused, the man allegedly identified himself as an officer and tried to arrest her. The man was not a police officer, but reportedly then told the employee that he was going to speak with his supervisor and walked out of the business. He did not return. During an investigation, the was pulled over and allegedly had a gold badge and handcuffs on the seat of his car.  The man denied going to the Spa but admitted to pretending to be a cop “to prevent a crime after he was offered sexual favors.” He was arrested and booked into the Henderson Detention Center on charges of impersonating an officer, burglary and kidnapping.  Henderson detectives had been investigating three other similar incidents that happened in early 2014 at massage parlors in that city. This was the second person in as many months accused of impersonating an officer in the Las Vegas Valley in prostitution-related cases. LVMP officers said another man had pretended to be a police officer to force two escorts into having sex with him on the Las Vegas Strip during two unrelated incidents in January 2014.

Nevada’s state human trafficking legislation was strengthened in June, 2013, when the state legislature passed AB67.  The bill updates and strengthens laws against sex trafficking, including enhancing punishments for procuring minors for commercial sex.

Key Partners

  • Clark County Regional Justice Center
  • Las Vegas Municipal Police Department
  • Las Vegas Municipal Court
  • Southern Nevada Health District
  • Henderson Police Department

Key Sources

John School:

Reverse Stings:

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:

Child Endangerment:

 

State Nevada
Type County
Population 2204000
Location
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