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Hollywood is a city in southeast Florida located within Broward County, and has a population of approximately 151,500 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. This activity and its ancillary crimes have resulted in complaints to police from residents and businesses. In addition, targeted assaults, rapes, and homicides against prostituted persons have also been documented.
To reduce instances of prostitution and sex trafficking, the Hollywood Police Department has deployed various tactics focused on reducing the demand for commercial sex in the area, such as reverse stings operations and public disclosure of sex buyers’ identities. Street-level reverse stings have been conducted by police since at least 1976, if not earlier. Operations were staged at scheduled intervals each month using an undercover female officer as a decoy. To determine the location of reverse sting operations, the Hollywood Police Department relies on ongoing complaints from the community. In 1997, officers began using a two-pronged strategy of vehicle seizure and home letter delivery to deter arrested sex buyers from reoffending in the future. Additionally, the names and photos of arrested sex buyers were included in local news reports.
The Hollywood Police Department has taken significant action to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the city, especially through community collaboration and implementing strategic projects focused on reducing demand in the area. For example, in January of 1997, the Hollywood Police Department began a comprehensive project to reduce prostitution along the Federal Highway corridor of the city. This project was a result of citizen complaints from neighborhood citizen groups and business organizations in the city. A response was formulated to combat the prostitution problem. All available resources were used from the department, other city services, the media, and the community. The project consisted of an assessment of prostitution in the area, formulating and implementing a response, and finally an assessment of the response’s efficacy. Five types of responses were implemented such as educating the “mom and pop” motel owners in the area, a mapping program, conducting reverse stings with high media attention, and sending letters to the residences of arrested sex buyers about the dangers of communicable diseases, and finally, a city ordinance was drafted to hold the vehicles of suspected sex buyers in lieu of a $500.00 fine. A similar project was implemented in 2015, that consisted of several responses such as a john school, sending warning messages to potential sex buyers when using websites known for prostitution activity, posting warning signs regarding monitoring license plates, video surveillance of areas known for street-level prostitution activity, releasing the names and photos of arrested sex buyers on a sex offender website, sending “Dear John” letters to the residences of sex buyers, and impounding the vehicles of arrested sex buyers. As a result of both initiatives, the demand for commercial sex was significantly reduced in the city.
Employment loss is also a consequence of sex buying in the city. For example, in 2001, a Hollywood Hills High School Spanish teacher was arrested after attempting to solicit a student to engage in prostitution, stripping, and escorting. The teacher was placed on administrative leave as a result of his arrest. In 2004, a Hollywood patrol officer was arrested during a Federal child sex trafficking sting in Miami, FL. According to reports, the offender had traveled to a Miami-Dade County hotel to sexually exploit two minors in exchange for money. The officer had been communicating with someone who would transport two children to the hotel where the officer would sexually abuse them in exchange for money. The offender had submitted a “down payment” online and gave decoy officers the remaining payment upon arriving to the hotel. After the offender gave the undercover officers the money, he was arrested for “hiring two minors to engage in commercial sex acts”, a felony charge. As a result of his arrest, he was immediately suspended without pay pending the results of the investigation, and faces up to 40 years in prison, if convicted.
In 2019, the Hollywood Police Department revised their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to include new disciplinary action imposed by the Commission for any member of the Department that was found in violation of the law. The types of disciplinary action were, written reprimand, probation up to two years (with mandatory re-training or counseling, if applicable), suspension up to two years, revocation. Further, the SOP states that any member found in violation of a prostitution and/or soliciting prostitution offense, will usually result in termination of employment and/or a revocation of a Criminal Justice Officer’s Certification.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- Two Men Proposition Wrong Lady (1976)
- “Prostitution Sting Snares Sheriff’s Detention Officer”, Miami Herald, August 6 1988.
- “New Crackdown on Broward Prostitution”, Miami Herald, August 29 1997.
- Chat room sting lands Miami-Dade man in jail (2011)
- “City Manager’s Weekly Report: March 13 – March 19 2012”, Hollywood Police Department, March 19 2012.
- “Police Arrest 21 People in Hollywood Prostitution Sting”, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, May 24 2012.
- “Cutting Down on Prostitution”, Miami Herald, September 1 2000.
- Three towns want prostitution barrier (2000)
- Anti-Prostitution Zones: Justifications for Abolition (2001)
Auto Seizure, Letters, Identity Disclosure:
- Cops put a sting in prostitution crackdown (1997)
- Hollywood sends ‘Dear John’ letters (1997)
- Law lets Hollywood police seize cars in crimes (1999)
- “State High Court Could Decide If Cities Can Seize Cars in Prostitution Cases”, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, May 13 2004.
- Sustainable Prosperity Plan (2015)
Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:
- Ex-teacher accused of soliciting teen for sex (2001)
- Teacher accused of soliciting teen for sex (2001)
- Police patrolman jailed in sex sting (2004)
- FBI arrests police officer in federal child-sex case (2004)
- FBI sex sting nets Hollywood officer (2004)
- HPD Standard Operating Procedure (2019)
IT Based Tactics, John School, Cameras:
Background on Local Prostitution:
- Cops put sting in prostitution crackdown (1997)
- Hollywood cops target rising crimes along U.S. 1 (1998)
- Hollywood Police Department – Federal Highway Project (1998)
- Police raid Hollywood motel (2000)
- “Weekly Report: January 10 – January 16 2012”, Hollywood Police Department, January 16 2012.
- “Weekly Report: April 10 – April 16 2012”, Hollywood Police Department, April 16 2012.
- https://www.sheriff.org/BSO-AND-HOLLYWOOD-POLICE-TAKE-DOWN-PROSTITUTION-OPERATION (2022)
Background on Local Sex Trafficking:
- “FBI Raiding ‘Body-Rub’ Joints in Booming South Florida Massage Industry”, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, November 24 2012.
- “Sex Trafficking: Hallandale Couple Accused of Prostituting Captive Women, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, December 22 2012.
- “Broward Judge Sets $30,000 Bond for Man Charged with Human Trafficking”, NBC/WTVJ-TV 6, June 28 2013.
- “Man Beat Homeless Woman, Forced Her into Prostitution, Authorities Say”, Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, June 28 2013.
- “Alleged Pimp on Trial for Kidnapping, Beating Prostitute”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, September 16 2014.
- “Hollywood Man Faces Up to a Life Term for Prostitution Conviction,” CBS Miami, September 22, 2014.
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/two-south-florida-residents-indicted-federal-sex-trafficking-charges (2021)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- Bike gang rounded up for trial (1986)
- Outlaw’s capture ends violent era (1993)
- UNITED STATES v. STARRETT (1995)
- https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/hollywood-man-sentenced-life-sex-trafficking-kidnapping (2014)
- Boyfriend attacks woman over failed drug buy, cops say (2016)
- https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/hollywood/fl-ne-man-arrested-sexual-battery-prostitutes (2022)