Fort Collins, CO

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Fort Collins is a city of roughly 150,000 residents, situated 65 miles north of Denver in Larimer County, Colorado. Commercial sex sales, particularly those arranged online and conducted within city hotels and adult-oriented businesses, have been reported in the community for at least two decades. Several cases of solicitation, commercial sexual exploitation, and trafficking of minors for prostitution have also been documented.

Although media outlets have reported john arrests in Fort Collins dating back to the mid-1990s, local law enforcement do not appear to have conducted demand-focused stings until 2015. In late March and early April of that year, the Fort Collins Police Department launched an investigation to identify individuals attempting to purchase sex online. Officers placed decoy advertisements to websites known for commercial sex activity, and arranged to the meet the individuals who responded to the listings.

Over a two-week period, 10 johns were arrested during two reversals. Both operations were staged at and with the cooperation of local hotels in the area. When asked about the stings, a FCPD representative commented:

“I think it’s going to be part of our everyday policing strategy. That’s what we want it to be, so (Fort Collins) is not a welcome place for this activity.”

Following the investigation, all of the arrested johns’ names and mugshots were publicized in press, with a note stating that the arrest photos had been provided by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

In January 2017, twenty-one men seeking to buy sex were arrested in a web-based reverse sting. Fort Collins police posted online ads for one day in “escort sections of common buy/sell/trade websites.” A total of 444 people responded to the ads, and 21 men scheduled appointments to pay for sexual services on the day of the sting.

In late July, 2018, eleven men were arrested during a “Human Trafficking Demand Reduction Operation” that attracted hundreds of men looking to buy sexual services. During the one-day operation, 282 potential clients responded to false prostitution advertisements placed online by Fort Collins police. Eleven of those men scheduled appointments and agreed to pay for various sex acts, totaling $1,825 in monetary exchanges ($165 per client).

John School:  First Offender Restoration Initiative

An option prosecutors may use for sex buyers arrested in Fort Collins is an 8-hour, 1-day mandatory “John School” class for first-time offenders. First Offender Restoration Initiative (FORI) is an educational alternative sentencing program in Northern Colorado designed for men charged with patronizing and/or soliciting a prostitute. FORI is an interactive seminar that includes education and “exposure to the realities of prostitution and sex trafficking in Northern Colorado.” 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 office, Fort Collins Police Department, Larimer County Sheriff, Restoration Counseling and local anti-trafficking organizations.

The fee for the First Offender Restoration Initiative class is $375. Classes begin at 8 a.m. and finish no later than 6 p.m. Specific locations are 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 complete the FORI course and receive a certificate of completion may have their charges reduced or dismissed.

Key Partners

  • Fort Collins Police Department
  • Larimer County Sheriff’s Office
  • Free Our Girls (First Offender Restoration Initiative)

Key Sources

State Colorado
Type City
Population 152061
Location
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