Monroe 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

Monroe County is located in the Detroit/Ann Arbor metropolitan area of Michigan, and has a population of about 155,000. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and nearby communities. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. In an effort to reduce the demand for prostitution, local police began conducting reverse stings in 1982. In September, 2018 a former Monroe County district judge pleaded guilty to four counts of misconduct in office following his March arrest for hiring prostituted women. The Michigan Attorney General announced the plea to the four felony counts, which each carry five-year maximum prison sentences, with the offender admitted to the facts in the affidavit during his plea hearing in Monroe County Circuit Court. A Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge heard the case after Monroe County judges recused themselves.  The judge had resigned in April 2018 after he was initially charged with one felony count of transporting a person for the purposes of prostitution as well as four misdemeanor counts of hiring women for the purpose of prostitution following an investigation by the Michigan State Police. The investigation started after state police were told of “prostitution-relate­d activities” at a Monroe Township hotel. Investigators learned a person matching the man’s’ description met women at the hotel for sex in exchange for money, arranged via accounts on the dating app Tinder, dating website OkCupid, and on Facebook.

In April, 2017, the development of a john school program within Monroe County was announced, after the Village of Dundee governing board voted unanimously to allow organizations fighting human trafficking to use the second floor of village hall for classes and meetings free of cost. The Village of Dundee announced the intention to start a John School to educate sex buyers about the need to change their behavior, which in turn could have a positive impact on the fight against human trafficking: if there were fewer customers willing to pay for sex, the market conditions should lead to fewer young women being exploited in human trafficking. Other organizations that would use the space and potentially collaborate on the John School are Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP), and the Monroe County Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition. The John School is intended for first-time offenders to attend the classes, typically eight hours long, to learn that what they did is not a victimless crime. Counselors, police officers, physicians and trafficking survivors will participate in the school to shed some light on the evils of prostitution. The students/offenders would attend the school by order of a court and could be in lieu of jail time. The schoool was scheduled to begin conducting classes in July, 2017, and would accept sex buyers who were sentenced in several counties, including Lucas, Wayne, Oakland, Monroe, Washtenaw and Lenawee. The location is excellent, supporters say, because Dundee is close to US-23 and accessible from other highways. And Toledo, a hotbed of human trafficking, is nearby. The 2o17 announcement about the Village of Dundee john school was erroneously reported as “state’s first-ever educational facility targeting men who are caught trying to buy sex with money.” Grand Rapids, MI was the first known john school program in the United States and began operating in 1981.  Washtenaw County has also had a john school program, which was launched in 2011.

A law enforcement respondent to the 2022 National Assessment Survey reported that web based reverse stings, vehicle seizures, and public education specifically targeting the demand for commercial sex have occurred in Monroe County since 2021.

Key Partners

  • Monroe County Sheriff’s Department
State Michigan
Type County
Population 155274
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