Etowah County, AL

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension
Etowah County is located in northeastern Alabama.  It has a population of about 104,000, and its county seat is Gadsden (with about 40,000 residents). Street-level prostitution and indoor prostitution rings facilitated by internet advertising have occurred throughout the county.
To combat consumer-level demand for commercial sex, the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, often collaborating with the Gadsden Police Department, have conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 2010. In one such operation 11 johns were arretsed between April 29 and May 4 2013.  The sting, dubbed Operation Stroll, was conducted “to combat a widespread prostitution problem in Gadsden.” During the reverse sting, undercover female officers stood at locations known for prostitution and waited for men to approach them.  The johns offered female officers between $1 and $20, averaging about $5 per solicitation.  Some of the men offered illegal drugs in exchange for sex, and one man offered a bologna sandwich as barter.In August 2014, another reversal following complaints from local residents that “people walking to work in the area had been accosted by people asking for sex.” The operation, which employed undercover female officers as decoys, was conducted over a two-day period and resulted in the arrest of 10 johns. The men’s names were not released to the public.  Police also attempt to be proactive by warning the community about the dangers of prostitution and asks citizens to contact the Special Projects team with information or questions.

In November 2014, the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Gadsden Police Department to conduct a web-based reverse sting. The team spent about eight hours at a Gadsden hotel during the sting, and sex sex buyers were arrested and were charged with soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor. It was one of a series of operations undertaken within the county that year against prostitution, using online and undercover operations. In September 2014, Oxford police conducted a similar investigation, resulting in 14 arrests, and Gadsden police provided assistance.  In August 2015, Gadsden police arrested at least 10 men, all of whom were booked into the Etowah County Detention Center on charges of soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor, on $1,000 bond.



Key Partners

  • Etowah County Sheriff’s Office
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Gadsden Police Department

Key Sources


State Alabama
Type County
Population 103057
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