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Dothan is located in the southeastern corner of Alabama, with a population of approximately 71,000. It is the government seat of Houston County. Sex trafficking and prostitution have been well-documented problems in the city for many years. Included in the range of local responses to these problems have been the use of tactics targeting consumer level demand. For example, the Dothan Police Department have conducted both street-level and web-based reverse stings. They have at times performed these operations about twice a year, usually in response to citizen complaints. Dothan Police have used female officers from neighboring police departments, as well as civilian police department employees as decoys in some of their reverse stings. The use of civilians in these operations been somewhat controversial, with concerns expressed regarding the safety of the volunteers, but the department has responded with a list of all the safety measures that are in place during reverse stings, and assure the public that the decoys are never in direct contact with the male sex buyers. The decoys are instructed to allow the potential sex buyers to initiate the conversation, and to only ask them what they want, and what they are looking for. This helps to avoid the entrapment defense when the arrested man goes to court. The names of the male sex buyers arrested in these operations are released to the media. For example, the DPD conducted a street-level reversal in November 2014 that resulted in the arrest of twelve sex buyers (including the Mayor of nearby Webb). All of the men’s names, arrest photos, and other identifying information were released to the public. In September, 2018 a Dothan man was arrested for soliciting prostitution from a female minor; the man’s name and age were included in news releases.
In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Dothan Police Department reported that they have also implemented the following tactics: other sex buyer arrests, vehicle seizure, driver’s license suspension, the use of surveillance cameras, and loss of employment.
- Dothan Police Department
2021 National Assessment II Survey
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Prostitution Sting in Dothan Lands Nine behind Bars,” CBS/WTVY-TV 4, July 13 2008.
- “Dothan Police Arrest Four for Soliciting Prostitution,” Dothan Eagle, August 11 2008.
- “Reverse Prostitution Sting Sends Four Men to Jail,” CBS/WTVY-TV 4, August 12 2008.
- “3 Arrested in Dothan Police in Reverse Prostitution Sting,” Birmingham News, May 5 2011.
- “Dothan Police Charge Trio in Reverse Prostitution Sting,” Dothan Eagle, May 6 2011.
- “9 Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” CBS/WTVY-TV 4, March 20 2013.
- “Dothan Police Arrest Nine Men on Prostitution Charges,” Dothan Eagle, March 20 2013.
- “Mayor of Webb among Dozen Arrested in Prostitution Sting Operation,” NBC/WSFA-TV 12, November 26 2014.
- “Webb Mayor Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Dothan Eagle, November 26 2014.
- https://www.dothaneagle.com/news/crime_court/dothan-man-arrested-for-soliciting-prostitution-from-minor (2018)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Woman Charged with Promoting Girl for Prostitution,” Dothan Eagle, September 12 2011.
- “Dothan Woman’s Rape Charge Dismissed,” Dothan Eagle, March 6 2013.
- “Bond Set for Man Accused of Human Trafficking,” CBS/WTVY-TV 4, August 28 2013.
- “Victim: Man Used Online Site to Prostitute Her, Others,” Dothan Eagle, May 12 2014.
- “Prosecution: Suspect Brought Teen Girl to Dothan for Prostitution Services,” Dothan Eagle, May 14 2014.
- “Houston County Judge Sentences Tennessee Man to Serve 50 Years for Human Trafficking, Giving Drugs to Minor,” Birmingham News, June 18 2014.
- “Santiago Alonso Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison,” CBS/WTVY-TV 4, June 18 2014.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Armed Robbery Suspect’s Bail Reduced,” Dothan Eagle, September 2 2011.
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