Kent County, MI

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Kent County is a county of about 653,000 residents in southwestern Michigan, with a county seat in Grand Rapids. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the county for decades. Problems related to the local commercial sex market include cases of drugs involved in prostitution, attempted sex trafficking through violence and assault, child sex trafficking, rape of a minor with a learning disability, and the murder of a sex buyer by a pimp. There has also been at least one serial killer who targeted Grand Rapids women engaged in prostitution, and other cases of murder and rape of victims of commercial sex. In one example, a man convicted of murdering a teenage girl escaped from prison and while on the run murdered two additional people and raped at least three prostituted women. In August, 2022, a man accused of raping and killing a local woman in 1996 is expected to appear before a Kent County judge to be formally charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, felony murder and open murder. The charges stem from the death of a woman whose body was found along 76th Street near Kraft Avenue in Caledonia Township in October, 1996. She had been raped, strangled and stabbed.  The victim was the mother of two who was pregnant with a third child when she was killed. She struggled with addiction and turned to prostitution to fund survival and her drug abuse. To combat persistent sex trafficking and all the related crimes in the area generated by the sex trade, local law enforcement and non-profits launched a task force in February 2022. The Salvation Army teamed up with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Solutions to End Exploitation to form their Human Trafficking Task Force.

In addition to the demand-reduction tactics used within the city of Grand Rapids, identity disclosure and employment loss are consequences of sex buying that have occurred at the county level. In January 2004, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the Kent County Sheriff’s Department must release an internal investigation report and the personnel files of a police sergeant who was arrested and charged in 2002 sting operation. The sergeant, who was also elected city commissioner in Kentwood from 1999 to 2003, and a Michigan State Trooper were two of 16 men arrested in May 2002 for soliciting sexual acts from two undercover Grand Rapids Police Department officers. The other 14 men received citations and spent the night in jail, but the two officers were released and later charged with solicitation only after The Grand Rapids Press published a story about the arrests. The Press submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Sheriff’s Department and the State Police Department for documents on the officers and sued when the requests were denied. After the appellate court ordered the documents to be released, reports stated that the police sergeant did not run for reelection as city commissioner of Kentwood in November, and was no longer serving in the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

Key Partners

  • Kent County Sheriff’s Department
  • Michigan Court of Appeals
  • The Grand Rapids Press
  • Michigan State Police

Key Sources

Identity Disclosure, Employment Loss:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:


State Michigan
Type County
Population 652617
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