Clearwater, FL

Tactics Used

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

Clearwater is a city of approximately 108,000 residents, located near Largo and St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, Florida. Persistent complaints about prostitution from businesses,  residents, and neighborhood organizations have spurred police to adopt the use of anti-demand tactics, including reverse stings. 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.”

Local law enforcement and city officials have also reported cases of sex trafficking in the city. 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.  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.

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.  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 johns) appears in a specified part of the city, they will be subject to arrest.


Key Partners

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:


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 106642
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