Dayton, OH

Tactics Used

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

Dayton is a city of approximately 140,000 residents, located 50 miles north of Cincinnati in Montgomery County, Ohio. Numerous problems associated with the local commercial sex market have been documented in the city, including targeted homicides of sex sellers and individuals arrested for selling sex while HIV-positive.

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 1989; operations are now routinely conducted, often using one or more undercover female officers as decoys. As men attempt to solicit sex from the women, they are apprehended by a backup team. Once arrested, johns frequently have their names released to the media.  Recent examples include a web-based operation conducted in December 2017.  An ad was placed online and a detective posed as a prostitute in arranging meetings 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 men; police also seized 13 cars and 13 cell phones.  Prosecutors charged the suspects with soliciting, use of criminal tools and some people are facing minor drug charges.  Detectives said their 3-day stings usually lead to the arrest of more than 10 people.

In a July 2018 feature in the Dayton Daily News, 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 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 customers were senior citizens that were decades older than the people they solicit. The median age of the suspects was 46 years old.  First-time offenders most commonly are given probation, tested for HIV and are ordered to attend Johns school where they are 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.

Shaming is also a tactic used in Daytona.  In 1993, the DPD took out an advertisement in a local paper on Valentine’s Day listing the names and identities of men recently arrested in a john sweep.  Photos and identifiers of arrested johns are routinely release to news outlets.  To further deter sex buyers, Dayton police have also at times sent letters to the homes of individuals whose cars are seen idling in areas known for commercial sex sales. 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 will 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 are geo-targeted to the offenders’ locations; their their names and addresses will added to a map on  The names and addresses of people convicted of selling sex will not be published though.

In June 2008, city law enforcement partnered with the Dayton Municipal Court’s Adult Probation Department to create a john school. Enrollment is limited to first-time offenders, and all participants must pay a $250 enrollment fee. Once accepted into the program, johns must attend a day-long course that includes presentations from probation officers, city prosecutors, and public health officials. Between 2008 and 2010, 139 men completed the course, and only two are known to have subsequently re-offended.

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State Ohio
Type City
Population 155461
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