Estes Park, CO

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

Estes Park is a city of roughly 6,400 residents, situated about 65 miles north of Denver, CO and is located in Larimer County, CO. For at least two decades, instances of prostitution, particularly those arranged online and conducted within city hotels and adult-oriented businesses, have been reported throughout the county. Several cases of solicitation, commercial sexual exploitation, and child sex trafficking have also been documented.

In efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex, the Estes Park Police Department, often in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, has been known to conduct reverse sting operations focused on arresting sex buyers. For example, in areas of the city where prostitution is more common law enforcement officials pose as decoys on street corners, massage parlors, and online to identify and arrest sex buyers. In Fort Collins, Loveland, and Estes Park police typically charge sex buyers with “Soliciting for Prostitution,” a class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 6 months in the Larimer County Jail and fines of not more $5,000. In addition, police often release the identities, images, and affiliated charges of arrested sex buyers to local media outlets. For example, in 2021, the Estes Park Police Department conducted a prostitution and sex trafficking enforcement operation with assistance from The Avery Center, Loveland Police Department, Longmont Police Department, Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers, and Boulder County District Attorney’s Office Forensic Investigators. The operation focused on citing individuals seeking to solicit prostitution online. According to reports,

“Undercover officers were contacted by over 350 potential buyers who were inquiring about prostitution services in Estes Park. Estes Park Police Officers arrested five men who were cited for Soliciting for Prostitution and released.”

Police also stated that the investigation was initiated because of the city’s close proximity to larger cities where prostitution and sex trafficking are pervasive issues, “As a destination community in close proximity to larger cities, Estes Park is a potential location for prostitution operations and sex trafficking. Prostitution is often viewed as a victimless crime, but it can be exploitative sex trafficking, and is often accompanied by additional criminal activities.” The identities of cited sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets.

In addition to the possibility of receiving a jail sentence, individuals arrested for soliciting prostitution are often required to pay fines and complete a “john school” program. Since late 2017, courts have the ability to provide convicted sex buyers the option of completing a “john school” program (First Offender Restorative Initiative – FORI). FORI is an educational alternative sentencing program designed for men charged with patronizing and/or soliciting a prostitute and is an 8-hour, 1-day, mandatory session for first-time offenders. This program is designed as an interactive seminar that includes education and “exposure to the realities of prostitution and sex trafficking in Northern Colorado.” As of 2021, the program is delivered by local therapist Chris Bruno, and was developed in partnership with multiple agencies in the Fort Collins area, including the Larimer County District Attorney’s OfficeFort Collins Police DepartmentLarimer County Sheriff’s Office, and a local anti-trafficking organization called Restoration Counseling.

The fee for the First Offender Restoration Initiative class was $375. Classes began at 8 a.m. and finished no later than 6 p.m. Specific locations have been announced one week prior to the class to maintain confidentiality. Only those deemed eligible by the courts may attend. Attendance to the entire class is mandatory in order to receive the Certificate of Completion. In many cases, participants who successfully complete the course have their charges reduced or dismissed.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

John School:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Colorado
Type City
Population 6377
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