High Point, NC

Tactics Used

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

High Point is a city of approximately 100,000 residents located in central North Carolina’s Guilford County, near Winston-Salem and Greensboro.  A key feature of the city related to prostitution is what is billed as the world’s largest home furnishings exhibition.  In the spring and fall each year, the week-long trade show attracts an estimated 140,000 attendees from over 100 countries.  A study by High Point University found that the exhibitions are the state’s largest economic events (Fox et al., 2007). Prostitution is a persistent problem in the city; 651 prostituted persons were arrested between 2003 and 2008 alone.  Complaints from High Point residents and businesses influence where and when police conduct reverse stings and other anti-prostitution efforts.  The High Point Police Department routinely conducts street-level reverse stings and has employed this tactic since 1985. Officers incorporated the use of web-based stings in 2009. Since the 1990s, citizens have been encouraged to contact police with any information that may help them identify prostituted women and their clients. Once arrested, offenders are subjected to shaming as their names and identities are released to the public. Repeat offenders may face up to six to 12 months in prison. Examples of how the city has attempted to combat demand for commercial sex:

Reverse Stings:

  • Street-level reverse stings began in approximately 1985, according to a survey respondent from the high Point Police Department.  They occur several times per year, and in some years as many as 35 reverse stings have occurred.  The average is about 3 reverse stings per year.
  • In the spring of 1996 police canceled a planned reverse sting near the furniture show, amid allegations that the police bowed to pressure from the furniture industry.  In the fall of that year, police conducted a reverse sting, arresting 17 men for soliciting female police decoys.
  • In our National Assessment study, we have gathered information on 15 reverse stings resulting in the arrest of 67 men.   The operations typically last five hours and involve one decoy and a support team of unknown size, and each reverse sting results in about five arrests of johns.

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

  • The first known web reverse sting occurred in 2006, using a decoy ad placed on Craigslist.  Most of the reverse stings in High Point are street-level, and do not use the internet.

Shaming: 

  • Identities of men arrested for soliciting have been released to the media as long as police have been conducting reverse stings.

Dear John Letters:

  • In 2000, letters were first sent to the addresses of registered owners of cars seen in areas known for prostitution and being used in a manner suggesting that drivers were interested in soliciting sex from women engaged in prostitution.

Key Partners

Key Sources

State North Carolina
Type City
Population 100432
Location
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