Lakewood, WA

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

Lakewood is a city in the Puget Sound region of Washington with a population of about 63,000, located in Pierce County, WA. Prostitution and sex trafficking markets have a documented presence in the city, and produce a number of additional problems, such as attempted homicide and assault. For example, in 2013 two men negotiated with a sex trafficker/pimp to “hire” two prostituted women.  The sex trafficker/pimp shot one of the men in the head for refusing to pay her after the deal fell apart. The sex trafficker/pimp was charged with first-degree attempted murder, second-degree assault, first-degree attempted robbery, and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. The 65-year-old victim survived.

In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex, police conduct street-level reverse stings. Some reverse stings have resulted in dozens of arrests. For example, in 2000, Lakewood sheriff’s deputies conducted a series of three street-level reverse stings, targeting suspected sex buyers. As a result of the investigation, a total of 44 male sex buyers were arrested.

In addition to street-level reverse stings, the LPD has also conducted web-based reverse sting operations. These operations are often conducted in collaboration with other local, city, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The identities of arrested sex buyers are frequently released as a result of these operations. For example, the LPD participated in the FBI’s annual nationwide child sex trafficking operation at least five times from 2012-2016. These operations focus on identifying victims of child sex trafficking and apprehending sex buyers and sex traffickers. The operations are conducted through both street-level and web-based reverse stings.

SOAP (or “Stay Out of Areas with Prostitution”) Orders, barring arrested sex buyers from entering areas in the city known for commercial sex for a specified period of time have also been employed in the city. The city first considered implementing SOAP Orders in 2005 however, they were not officially implemented until December 2021, through the passage of the ordinance ‘Anti-prostitution Emphasis Areas.’ Through the 2021 ordinance, both prostituted people and sex buyers are subject to SOAP Orders.

In 2005, the city spearheaded a new initiative where convicted male sex buyers are required to complete an educational program about commercial sex in addition to a mandatory STD test. The ‘john school’ program consists of various presenters including formerly prostituted women and neighborhood residents who would like prostitution to end in their communities because of a wide range of negative effects it produces. The john school is a collaborative effort that also serves the cities of Tacoma and Fife, as well as Pierce County. More information about the john school is provided on the DemandForum page for Tacoma.

Key Sources

John School:

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure:

SOAP Orders:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Prostitution-Related Violence:

State Washington
Type City
Population 63331
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