Inwood is a census-designated place of approximately 7,000 residents, located near Winter Haven and Lakeland in Polk County, Florida. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has conducted many street-level reverse stings in the area, due in part to frequent complaints from residents, business owners and public officials. Notably, in February 1989, PCSO deputies staged a john sting along the perimeter of one of Inwood’s junior high schools, after parents and teachers reported commercial sex sales were occurring near school grounds.
Around the same time, Inwood residents formed the Inwood Association. From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, members attended city council meetings and other public hearings to voice support for anti-prostitution measures, and reported the license plate numbers of cars seen idling or beckoning prostituted women to local law enforcement. In December 1992, Inwood Association members encouraged PCSO deputies to enforce a state law enabling officers to revoke the licenses of johns’ convicted of soliciting sex from a vehicle. While Polk County deputies reported that they would begin applying the penalty, it is unclear how consistently it has been applied in the years since.
In early October 2014, PCSO deputies staged a reverse sting in Inwood and the Lake Ida area that resulted in the arrest of 13 johns. Among the arrestees were a registered sex offender, a man with a baby and a vial of crack cocaine in his vehicle, and a man days away from beginning a jail sentence for a human trafficking conviction. Following their arrest, each of the men’s names and mugshots were publicized in local media outlets.
- Polk County Sheriff’s Office
- The Inwood Association
- Reverse Stings:
- “Sting Nets 10 for Soliciting Prostitutes Near Junior High”, Lakeland Ledger, February 10 1989.
- “Winter Haven Prostitution Sting Nets Nine Arrests”, Lakeland Ledger, April 16 1992.
- “Detective an Actor When Undercover”, Lakeland Ledger, October 17 1994.
- “50 Arrested on Drug, Prostitution Charges”, Lakeland Ledger, October 7 1995.
- “26 Are Charged in Inwood Prostitution Sting”, Lakeland Ledger, April 26 1996.
- “24 Men Arrested for Soliciting Prostitution”, Lakeland Ledger, February 18 2009.
- “13 Arrested in Polk Prostitution Sting Including Man Wearing GPS”, CBS/WNCT-TV 9, October 3 2014.
- License Suspension and Neighborhood Action:
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Sheriff Concentrating on Inwood Drugs”, Lakeland Ledger, December 30 1986.
- “Parents Blast Board to Put an End to Prostitution and Drug Dealing Near High School”, Lakeland Ledger, February 1 1989.
- “School Chief Seeks Sheriff’s Substation”, Lakeland Ledger, February 22 1989.
- “Drugs, Prostitution to Be Topic of Inwood Meeting”, Lakeland Ledger, November 25 1992.
- “Police Substation Raises Hopes in Inwood Area”, Lakeland Ledger, November 13 1993.
- “Inwood Residents Complaining about Crime”, Lakeland Ledger, October 1 1995.
- Child Endangerment: