Dayton, OH

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

Dayton is a city of approximately 140,000 residents, located 50 miles north of Cincinnati in Montgomery County, Ohio. Numerous crimes associated with the local commercial sex market have been documented in the city for decades, including illicit drug offenses, targeted homicides, assault, and rape of prostituted people, and the sex trafficking of children. Sex buyers have also been assaulted and robbed with deadly weapons during prostitution transactions. High-level fraud and misuse of government funds are prostitution-related crimes that have also occurred in Dayton. In July 2022, it was reported that a senior US Air Force hypersonic missile scientist duped his colleague into hiring a prostituted woman at a top military research facility, so he could continue paying for her services without his wife’s knowledge. As the plot began to unravel and the duped supervisor attempted to oust the prostituted woman, the sex buyer became erratic and threatened to kill the supervisor and himself, but ultimately, transferred the prostituted woman to another military contractor, with $150,000 in funding to pay for her salary. Investigators also turned up a spreadsheet on the man’s government-issued laptop on which he curated a list of at least 27 prostituted women he frequented while on US Government trips. Several of the prostituted women were deemed to be a threat to US security.

In response to chronic prostitution activity in the city and the numerous health and safety problems it generates, the Dayton Police Department has pursued an aggressive and comprehensive strategy to identify and arrest sex buyers. Officers began conducting street-level reverse stings in 1976; operations have been routinely conducted since that time, often using one or more undercover female officers as decoys. As men attempt to solicit sex from prostituted women, they are apprehended by a team of undercover officers. Once arrested, sex buyers frequently have their names released to the media, a tactic first deployed in 1993 in Dayton. Recent examples include a web-based operation conducted in December of 2017, in which a decoy prostitution advertisement was posted online by an undercover detective, and meetings were arranged to exchange sex for money. Arrests were made at the meetup location when the buyers arrived and continued arranging for the commercial sex exchange. The Dayton Police Street Crimes Unit said the internet sting led to the arrest of 14 male sex buyers; police also seized 13 vehicles and 13 cell phones. Prosecutors charged the suspects with soliciting, and the use of criminal tools.

In a July 2018 feature in the Dayton Daily News, Buying sex in Dayton: Prostitution-related offenses on rise, it was reported that Dayton police have continued to focus on the demand for commercial sex, arresting 83 men in 2016, 150 men in 2017, and 86 men during the first six months of 2018. The Dayton Daily News examined about 200 cases to try to learn more about the local men who purchase sex acts. Among the noteworthy findings was that a significant number of commercial sex buyers were senior citizens that were decades older than the people they solicited. The median age of the suspects was 46 years. First-time offenders most commonly were given probation, tested for HIV, and ordered to attend a John school where they were taught about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, health education, the negative community impact of commercial sex activities, and the legal consequences of solicitation and human trafficking. In 2019, another 5 male sex buyers were arrested in a web-based reverse sting, and their identities were publicly reported.

Not all demand reduction tactics in the city of Dayton have been deployed by law enforcement agencies. For example, in 1989 residents of Dayton gathered together and protested prostitution activity within their own neighborhoods. Residents of the Riverdale neighborhood reportedly organized an anti-prostitution rally, in an effort to deter prostitution and related crimes in the area. In 1990, residents along North Dixie Drive, an area known for high rates of prostitution-related activity, petitioned for officers to conduct a reverse sting operation targeting male sex buyers. According to reports, over 2,000 residents of the North Dixie Drive area signed the petition.

Letters and Identity Disclosure

Identity disclosure is another tactic used in Dayton, it was first implemented on January 1st, 1993 when the DPD publicized a list of men arrested for soliciting prostitution on the city’s public access channel, Viacom Cablevision – Channel 19. Again in 1993, the DPD placed an advertisement in a local paper on Valentine’s Day listing the names and identities of men recently arrested in a sex buyer sweep. Photos and identifiers of arrested sex buyers are routinely released to news outlets. In January 2019, the city of Dayton announced an initiative called “Buyer’s Remorse” designed to modernize its approach to combating prostitution and sex trafficking. It would make the information on anyone caught buying sex in Dayton “very” public, with the identities of convicted sex buyers included in social media ads that were geo-targeted to the offenders’ locations; their names and addresses would be added to a map on The names and addresses of prostituted persons would not be published.

To further deter sex buyers, Dayton police have also at times sent letters to the homes of individuals whose cars have been seen idling in areas known for prostitution. These letters warn that prostitution is a serious offense and list potential penalties, including fines, vehicle seizures, incarceration, and john school. The letters have been sent to the registered vehicle owners in the hopes of discouraging them from purchasing commercial sex.

John School

In June 2008, city law enforcement partnered with the Dayton Municipal Court’s Adult Probation Department to create a john school. Enrollment was limited to first-time offenders, and all participants paid a $250 enrollment fee. Once accepted into the program, sex buyers attended a day-long course that included presentations from probation officers, city prosecutors, and public health officials. Between 2008 and 2010, 139 men completed the course, and only two were known to have subsequently re-offended. As of 2021, four cities had john schools that were currently in operation.

According to reports, the Dayton John School program is typically limited to first-time offenders. Individuals arrested more than once may face jail time of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500, at the discretion of the judge. The court may also choose to impose a two-year driver’s license suspension.

Loss of Employment

Loss of employment is also a consequence that sex buyers face in the city of Dayton. For example, in 2002, a former Dayton police sergeant elected to retire, after he was arrested for soliciting prostitution on two separate occasions. The former officer was initially arrested for soliciting prostitution from an undercover officer in the spring of 2002, which resulted in a 30-day suspension, one-year unsupervised probation, and a fine of $250. In the fall of 2002, the officer, who at the time was still on suspension from the previous charge, was arrested for soliciting prostitution for the second time. According to reports, the sex buyer elected to retire in lieu of the alternative — being formally fired by the chief of police.

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey and Interviews (2012)

John School, Driver’s License Suspension:

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

Neighborhood Action:

Auto Seizure:


Loss of Employment:

Proposed SOAP Orders:

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:

State Ohio
Type City
Population 137644
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