Cleveland, OH

Tactics Used

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

Cleveland is a city of approximately 400,000 residents, located in northeastern Ohio’s Cuyahoga County. The city has experienced a wide range of negative events associated with the local commercial sex market, including HIV-positive prostituted women continuing to sell sex, assaults of both prostituted persons and their clients, human trafficking of adults and children, and homicides that specifically targeted those engaged in prostitution.

The Cleveland Police Department has been conducting street-level reverse stings since 1976, and more recently, has added web-based reversals to its array of efforts to combat demand. As street stings typically utilize undercover female officers, operations have at times involved “dual-sweeps,” where officers initially saturate a targeted area and arrest all prostituted women in the vicinity, then replace them with female police decoys along the same streets. At times, the CPD has reported that city “sweeps” of prostituted persons have uncovered victims of domestic minor sex trafficking.

Neighborhood Action

For their part, Cleveland residents have also taken an active role in demand reduction efforts. In recent years, residents of the Ohio City neighborhood have camped out in lawn chairs along busy intersections and established informal patrols on Friday evenings, holding signs that read “Dear Johns, Your plate number is being recorded. Yours truly, The Neighbors.”

John School

In 2008, a handful of community of members laid the foundation for what would become the city’s first john school. The “No New Tricks” John School is the brainchild of Brian Kazy, project coordinator for the Detroit Shoreway Weed and Seed Initiative, and Robin Palmer, a social worker and head of the trauma-assistance and counseling group known as the Mokita Center. Limited to first time offenders, the diversion program is a day-long course that stresses personal accountability and public education. It has been held as often as once per month, and through April 2012 boasted a recidivism rate of less than 1%. Though initially limited to johns arrested in the Detroit Shoreway area, the “No New Tricks” John School expanded citywide with the assistance of the CPD and Cleveland Municipal Court in May 2012. The school is financed by the johns themselves, who must pay a fee to enroll.

Key Sources

State Ohio
Type City
Population 438042
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