Hernando County, FL

Tactics Used

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

Hernando County is located in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area of Florida, and has a population of approximately 186,000 residents.  Its county seat is the city of Brooksville.  Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are child sex trafficking, and violence committed against prostituted and trafficked people.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response.  To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and other collaborating agencies have conducted reverse stings. Police may also seize the vehicles of arrested sex buyers, and the names, ages, and other details about the johns may be released to the media.  For example, 32 men were arrested during a five-day sting in 2008 named “Operation Working Woman” by the Brooksville Police Department.  Officers targeted two areas , the intersection of Jefferson Street and Ponce De Leon Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in south Brooksville.  The arrested men were from all over the North Suncoast, from places as far away as Inverness, New Port Richey, Homosassa and Spring Hill.  The men were described as from all income levels and occupations, and ranged in age from 20 to 78. Each of the men arrested approached an undercover female officer and offered money in exchange for a variety of sex acts.  The men were each charged with a single count of solicitation for prostitution, a misdemeanor. Prostitution-related homicides and numerous complaints about criminal activity from nearby residents were cited as the reasons for police conducting the crackdown.

In November, 2016, a former Hernando County Commissioner pleaded no contest to prostitution charges, ending his case with judgment withheld and a requirement to pay court costs of $729. The man had been arrested and charged with three misdemeanors, including two counts of purchasing services from a prostitute and one charge of operating a business engaged in prostitution.

 

Key Partners

  • Hernando County Sheriff’s Office
  • Brooksville Police Department
  • New Port Richey Police Department

Key Sources

Shaming Arrested Sex Buyers:

Auto Seizure:

Background on Local Prostitution:

 

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

  • “Man Faces Charges of Lewd Acts,” St. Petersburg Times, October 24 1991.
  • “Motel Owner in Hernando County Jail on Sex Charges Involving Teen-ager,” St. Petersburg Times, October 24 1991.
  • “Innkeeper Charged in Tryst with Teenager,” Tampa Tribune, October 26 1991.
  • “Woman Charged in Teen Sex Plot,” St. Petersburg Times, October 26 1991.

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Body Is Identified as a Tampa Woman,” St. Petersburg Times, March 27 1987.

 

State Florida
Type County
Population 186553
Location
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