Dothan, AL

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

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. 

Key Partners

  • Dothan Police Department

Key Sources

2021 National Assessment II Survey

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Armed Robbery Suspect’s Bail Reduced,” Dothan Eagle, September 2 2011.
State Alabama
Type City
Population 71175
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