Clearwater, FL

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

Clearwater is a city of approximately 117,000 residents, located near Largo and St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, Florida. Persistent complaints about prostitution from businesses,  residents, and neighborhood organizations have occurred in the city and surrounding areas for decades. When asked about prostitution activity in the area in February 2014, Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway reported that the department has received numerous “complaints about guys driving in neighborhoods looping around and around… johns will stop in front of [residents] assuming that they may be a prostitutes.” Officers have raided brothels in which victims were forced into prostitution.  Police note that the prostituted persons they arrest are often struggling with substance abuse and addiction, unstable housing, and tend to frequent certain streets in the city.  Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. Prostitution related violence – including homicide – has also occurred within the county. The city has also had active serial killers targeting prostituted women, and cases of prostituted women killed by multiple offenders using extreme sadism, torture, and dismemberment. The city was one of the areas in which a prostituted woman was a serial killer of male sex buyers.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Since 1985, the Clearwater Police Department has been conducting street level stings using female officers posing as prostituted women (as well as male officers posing as johns). For example, in 2012, a prostitution detail by Clearwater Police in the East Gateway area and 1700 block of Gulf to Bay Boulevard resulted in 18 arrests; the department’s Anti-Crime Team and Downtown Bike Team conducted the detail.  The names, ages, and pictures of arrested sex buyers are often publicized by the local news media.  A reverse sting conducted in December 2013 resulted in the arrest of nine men along Gulf to Bay Boulevard near San Remo Avenue and Jupiter Avenue. The detail used undercover officers and was done to target problem areas that residents and merchants nearby had identified. More recently, police have been conducting web-based reverse stings in addition to periodic street operations. The Clearwater Police Department has also been involved in a “mapping program,” which functions like a SOAP order.  The Police Department signs a petition with the municipal court stating that if an individual who is the subject of the petition (i.e., the sex buyer) appears in a specified part of the city, they will be subject to arrest.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

License Suspension:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Florida
Type City
Population 116682
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