Hemet, CA

Tactics Used

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

Hemet is city of approximately 79,000 residents, located roughly 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles in Riverside County, California. Prostitution is seen by many residents as widespread and a detriment to the quality of life in the city, and the local commercial sex market also includes child sex trafficking.

In February 2014, a group of residents staged a protest at a hotel alleged to be complicit in allowing prostitution on its premises.  One of the protesters discussed the need to address demand by arresting johns:  “Without clients, there would be no more prostitution.”  A petition was started on change.org calling for the city of Hemet to “pull city business licenses of motels continually supporting prostitution.” More than 250 supporters signed in less than two days.

In response to known cases of child sex trafficking and numerous business and resident complaints about prostitution, the Hemet Police Department has conducted a handful of street-level reverse stings to deter commercial sex buyers.  While operations have taken place throughout the city, several have centered around Florida Avenue. When asked by a media reporter in 2014 why the HPD has targeted sex buyers in addition to sellers, the HPD Police Chief “said a key to halting their selling of sex is stopping their customers from buying their illegal services. He said the police can’t simply arrest the problem away because prostitutes aren’t held long in overcrowded Riverside County jails, which he finds frustrating. He said police need to change their environment to make Hemet a place where they won’t want to try to profit by charging for sex.”

Key Sources

State California
Type City
Population 70288
Location
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