Decatur, IL

Tactics Used

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

Decatur is a city of approximately 76,000 residents, located east of Springfield in Macon County, Illinois. Serious problems related to prostitution, including the trafficking and exploitation of minors for commercial sex, have been reported in the city for over two decades. In 1991, for example, a 16-year-old girl was trafficked out of Decatur by an adult pimp who prostituted her in Milwaukee, murdered her, and dumped her body near a public hunting ground in Dane County, Wisconsin. Three years later, in an unrelated case, a 15-year-old prostituted girl was convicted of murdering a john in what the Decatur Police Department described at the time as “a prostitution deal gone bad.” More recently, two police reports of robberies of sex buyers, as well as a case of forced prostitution of a 14-year-old girl, have been documented in the city since 2011.

In an effort to reduce prostitution activity in the area, Decatur Police and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office have conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 1990. Following an operation in March 1991, the Decatur Herald & Review reported that DPD officers used cameras during a reversal to record buyers’ attempts to solicit undercover female officers. Law enforcement still conduct reverse stings in the city periodically, and sometimes releases the identities of those arrested to the public.

More recent examples include a reverse sting in December 2014, in which six men, including a former detective with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, were each charged with solicitation of a sexual act during an operation by the Decatur Police Street Crimes Unit. The men were arrested when they responded to an ad on a website that advertised the services of a prostituted woman who would be in Decatur. They each allegedly offered to pay an undercover female officer a fee of between $40 and $100. They were all issued notices to appear in court for their arraignments on the misdemeanor charges in January 2015. Each defendant was charged in circuit court with one count of solicitation, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail or probation. The identities of all the arrested sex buyers were included in news releases.

In February, 2021, police arrested a man during a web-based reverse sting:  Police placed an advertisement on a website known for prostitution/sex trafficking using a Decatur Police officer who was posing as a prostituted woman. The officer had conversations with the man by phone and they agreed to meet to have sex in exchange for $150. The suspect also agreed to give the officer one gram of cocaine and $40.  During a meeting at a Decatur hotel, the officer gave the arrest team the signal to make the arrest. The man resisted arrest, struggling for several minutes and police shot him with a stun gun and took him to the ground.  The man was booked on preliminary charges of solicitation of a sexual act, resisting police, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and possession of cannabis with intent to deliver.


Key Sources

State Illinois
Type City
Population 76122
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