Fife, WA

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

Fife is a city in Washington state, located east of Tacoma, in Pierce County. It has a population of approximately 10,350 residents. Situated at the juncture of Interstate 5 and State Route 167, the city “consists primarily of businesses such as car dealerships, warehousing and industrial facilities, motels, an Indian casino, drive-through smoke shops, quick-dining restaurants, and other highway-side businesses.” Prostitution and sex trafficking, particularly in and around the city’s many roadside motels, have been persistent problems in the area for several years. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

To combat these problems, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office (PCSD) has conducted street-level reverse stings in the city since 2008. Additionally, Fife public officials have also established a series of anti-demand city ordinances. These municipal codes enable the PCSD and Fife Police Department (FPD) to seize and impound the vehicles of individuals arrested for solicitation, and ban convicted sex buyers from reentering the area where they were arrested (SOAP Orders). More recently, the Fife Police Department has released the names of individuals who currently have SOAP orders. In 2007, the city expanded its official definition of prostitution and solicitation to include those who “solicit, advertise, or otherwise agree to engage in an act of prostitution… by any means including but not limited to violations facilitated by: the use of a computer, including the use of the Internet, the World Wide Web, electronic mail, message board, news group, or any other commercial or noncommercial online service; the use of a telephone or voicemail system; or the use of a pager.”

In October 2017, Fife served as one of the site locations during the FBI’s annual child sex trafficking investigation, Operation Cross Country XI. Additionally, the FPD was one of the four partners who hosted command posts for operations and/or provided significant resources. These multi-agency operations consist of both street-level and web-based reverse stings and focus on apprehending sex buyers and sex traffickers, in addition to identifying minors who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

Fife officials partnered with leadership from the neighboring communities of Lakewood and Tacoma to establish a “john school” education program for arrested sex buyers. The diversion program, established in 2005, offers first time offenders the opportunity to expunge the misdemeanor charge from their record, pending their completion of a daylong seminar (and ability to avoid rearrest). To attend, sex buyers must submit to HIV and other STD tests and complete “work restitution.” The course, which consists of a series of presentations from local law enforcement, public health officials, and former prostituted women, requires a $600 enrollment fee, 80% of which “goes to social services aimed at getting prostituted women off the streets.”

Key Sources

John School:

Street-Level and Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Auto Seizure:

SOAP Orders, Identity Disclosure:

Anti-Online Solicitation Ordinance:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Local Prostitution Related Violence:

State Washington
Type City
Population 10345
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